Litter Bugs and Crying American Indians. Recycle Damn It!!

“Solid wastes” are the discarded leftovers of our advanced consumer society. This growing mountain of garbage and trash represents not only an attitude of indifference toward valuable natural resources, but also a serious economic and public health problem.
— Jimmy Carter

Heart Earth

When it comes to recycling, Korea really is trying to do its part to save the planet.

When we lived at Fort Hood, the city of Harker Heights did NOT recycle, at least not at the door step.  There was a recycling center not far from where we lived but lots they would not accept.  So we brought our own plastic tubs/recycling bins and I drove the stuff on post every other week.  When we lived in San Antonio, recycling depended on where you lived.  I never lived in an apartment complex that offered recycling.  At the house on Lake Path, it was an available option – but very limited.Hand PlanetAs anywhere when you have a large group of people, some will participate and some will not.  So no, they haven’t found the perfect system as far as compliance goes, but the apartment complex I live in does an amazing job in MANY aspects.

First, you have to purchase the garbage bags.  They come in two sizes: Small and Large.  What you are imagining as far as sizes is probably accurate.  A small is similar to a bathroom sized garbage can and the large for a kitchen sized garbage can.  You can pick them up at many of the local grocery stores and “Wal-mart-ish” stores for a few Won each.  Based on the rental agreement, we pick up these bags for free.  (Well they are not free, we pay for them as part of our rent.)  So keeping in mind that we still have a little dude in diapers, we go through about 1 large garbage bag every two weeks.  Swear to GOD.  And since our garbage can is smaller than the bag, it is never really full.  With that being said, we head down to the recycling area with a good-sized load AT LEAST twice per week.  Here are pictures from inside the collection point of our apartment complex.  They collect pretty much everything.

043 This is the “garbage” collection area.

048Cardboard

047Glass, glass bottles and scrap iron

046Food scraps (with a few exceptions like avocado pits, animal bones, seafood shells, etc.)  Each apartment is provided a little card  you wave in front of the key pad.  The door raises, you throw your stuff in.  The machine weighs it, compacts it, and keeps it contained for various reasons.  The white bags on the left of the picture collect used light bulbs and batteries.

044Plastic, plastic bottles, cans, plastic bags, styrofoam and the blue bin on the far right is for paper products.

Bulky stuff is collected, but at an extra charge.  Never have I seen an area that is meant to collect garbage be so clean and orderly.  I mean it is actually pleasant down there, mostly due to the diligence of the apartment maintenance staff.  24 hours a day 7 days a week that place is monitored and kept organized.

I think the vast majority of Americans are very disconnected with their garbage…I mean it is YOUR garbage.  We put it in a trash can, set it by the curb and we do not really appreciate just how much we produce individually or collectively – especially when it comes to ways for reducing waste…like it is somebody else’s problem.  You know who that somebody is…our children.  And instead of putting our old, saggy, hard-of-hearing asses up in some swanky nursing home, they are going  to be paying some new tax which has yet to be invented for cleaning up all the shit we have done to our planet.  My hope is for the nursing home that provides free weekly pedicures and hot stone massages, only serves organic milk and grass-fed beef and lets me still drink wine .  (Just in case Connor reads this some day.)

Recycle set upThis is the set up inside of our pantry.  I just took stuff down yesterday so it is in pretty good shape.  Plastic bags hanging off the right side along with a bag for used batteries, bins from the top down:  paper, plastic other than bags, glass and can/aluminum.  That’s how we roll!

Here is what goes through my head:  So you want to drink milk?  This week you purchase and drink your gallon of organic (to avoid the antibiotics) fat-free (because you have started your yearly “January Diet”) milk.  What do you do with the container it came in?  You throw it in the trash.  Now step outside of your house and realize that every house that you can see did the exact same thing this week.  All of those milk containers sent to the landfill….and that is just the milk containers.  Oh By The Way… plastic milk containers do NOT rot and become dirt, they just sit there and stay milk containers FOREVER.  It freaks me out a little….

Recycle

I do my damnedest not to purchase individual wrapped anything anymore…that is why God created reusable Tupperware in various sizes.  Ziplock baggies are even starting to piss me off at this point.  (Side Note: I would love to catch that little f’ing Tupperwear Elf that sneaks into my house stealing only the containers and leaving the lids – it is the worst form of psychological warfare.  I am seriously considering the purchase of an “Elf on the Shelf” to catch his thieving ass.)

And your left over food?  Find a corner of your yard and start to compost…don’t get all worked up about it like some of the professional compost websites.  No, you DO NOT need to purchase their special compost earth worms, for Christ sake.  Those sites make it seem like composting is rocket science.  Not true.  Just learn the basics – the obvious stuff, meat, bones, paper.  Turn over the dirt and start dropping your left over table scraps in there.  We had one in Harker Height and turned it over about once a week but took stuff out to it daily.  And no:  it did not get all smelly even in the Texas heat; my cats did NOT dig in it; it did not attract rodents.  As far as dogs digging in it – no idea, not a dog person.

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5 Responses to Litter Bugs and Crying American Indians. Recycle Damn It!!

  1. Joanne says:

    What do they do with all that garbage in TX if nobody is really recycling? We don’t have as elaborate a system here in PA as you do in S Korea, but it gets most of the job done. It goes out once a week on Friday. I’ll have to take a photo of our recycle bin and send it to you. You would be proud of us. I have compost pile envy with my parents’ compost pile. You should see it. It’s huge; and they have wonderful plants all around it. You truly can’t have a good garden — vegetable or otherwise — without one. We’re still working on a good solution for that one. The layout of our yard isn’t ideal for it. I enjoyed your humorous look at this topic.

  2. Love this post! And I know where your tupperware containers are, they come to my house, because I have the containers, never the lids. Washignton state, being the liberal tree hugging state it is gives us huge recycling bins, and even yard waste bins. Love your blog paula!!!

  3. shanegenziuk says:

    Yeah I got his brother that takes the containers!
    Great post and I share your frustration and hoe that we can pull it together for the health of our environment and communities.
    I write extensively about recycling spent coffee grounds and can tell you that there are many of us out there making changes that are starting to make a difference. Keep at it!

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