Not recycling enough?

As a city, we’re still not recycling enough, or so suggests a press release previewing a council briefing this week on a new study about how to move closer to “zero waste.” (Says the study itself would be posted on the Seattle Public Utilities site this past Friday; as of right now, it’s nowhere in sight.) Got us thinking about how recycling works, and doesn’t work. Do you recycle everything you possibly can? If not, why not? Here at WSB HQ, we consider ourselves pretty good recyclers, nowhere near perfect. Probably our biggest sin of omission: We don’t recycle food waste, even though we know we can just collect it and put it in the yard-waste bin for composting. Highest on our wish list for making other recycling easier: Collect it weekly. We usually exceed bin capacity (just found out you can get a second bin; we’ve been wasting big paper bags all these years! still, weekly pickup would be nicer). #2 on the wish list — some way to recycle more plastic bags, not just the grocery type. #3 — straighten out the electronics-recycling situation. Trying to wade through this list (the only option we know of) is daunting enough to make even a hardcore recycling devotee just throw old phones, computers, etc. in the basement till someone works it out someday. Oh well, excuse us now, time to drag the bin to the curb …

25 Replies to "Not recycling enough?"

  • Sue April 9, 2007 (8:08 am)

    I agree about wanting weekly (or more) pickup. I live in an apartment complex that does not have enough bins for the amount of recycling, and the dumpster areas don’t have enough room for more bins. Within 2 days of pickup, the bins are overflowing on the ground. So I am forced to leave all the recycling in my apartment, or toss it in the trash. We recycle so much paper, milk containers, cans and plastic bottles, that if we store it up here (which is usually what we do), and watch for when they pick up and the bins are empty, we can personally fill half a bin at once. (There are only 3 in our area, covering about 30 apartments.) If everyone here is doing the same thing, it’s no wonder they fill so fast. I’d be willing to take a few bags over to a recycling center if it was an available option – we did this in NJ when we had a particularly large load (like moving boxes). I just don’t want to toss it out.
    And yes, the electronics recycling is not the most convenient. We have a backup power supply unit we wanted to recycle. It’s relatively small, but the local place wanted $20 to recycle it. or we can drive to Bellevue and waste gas and pay someone else $5 for it. I can see why people toss things like this in the trash. Meanwhile, we’ve got it sitting in the garage until we make a trip to the eastside for something else and can drop it off.

  • Lynn April 9, 2007 (8:22 am)

    We balked at having to collect food waste until we found a decent looking container (this one… that could sit on the kitchen counter near the sink, contain smells and also be put in the dishwasher. Our other previous options (a small paper bag or plastic container) ended up too stinky and too many fruit flies.

    My (relatively minor) recycling problem: what to do with metal coat hangers? I’m pretty sure Waste Management doesn’t take them with the regular recycling. Does any one know of a place that will recycle or reuse them?

  • ML April 9, 2007 (8:34 am)

    What about regular batteries (i.e, AAA, AA, C, D)? There used to be places where you could take them but we don’t see them any more.

  • CM April 9, 2007 (8:46 am)

    My biggest complaint is the yardwate issue. For the same price that used to allow up to 10 yard bags, we now get one container that is also supposed to take all our food waste.

    Besides that, I have no desire whatsoever to make my home any more desirable to our ubiquitous rodent neighbors.

  • Katherine April 9, 2007 (9:39 am)

    Re-PC over on Sixth Ave S is a good place for old computer stuff. They charge less than most. They repair what they can, break things down into components and sell the components, melt down bits and sell as metals. They really do reuse and recycle. Staples is more convenient, but – besides charging more – I’ve never got a good answer as to what they actually do with the stuff. Sell it on to a Third World country probably, to contaminate the soil and water there.

  • The House April 9, 2007 (9:43 am)

    Seattle should be applauded for it’s current recycling efforts. There are large metropolitan cities out there (Atlanta) that don’t require you to recycle ANYTHING. The House Household does a very good job of separating recycled good with the exception of food waste. To me it’s a space constraint issue. Having to keep 3 recycle containers in my kitchen is too much of a hassle to me. I’m comfortable utilizing two, but food rotting under my sink for 2 weeks just sucks.

  • Burienite April 9, 2007 (9:44 am)

    ML, you put regular household alkaline batteries in the trash these days. They aren’t make out of hazardous chemicals like they once were.

    The only households batteries that can be recycled now are the rechargable ones.

  • Eric April 9, 2007 (10:11 am)

    Recycling is great. But, you should read this.

  • Aidan Hadley April 9, 2007 (10:38 am)

    RE-PC is great for computer stuff. They often charge you a nominal fee though sometimes you can get credit for bringing in certain things. They take old cell phones too. I’m pretty sure wire hangers can be included your normal household recycling. Though batteries (except rechargeables) are mostly mercury-free these days and can be safely put into household trash, it still seems a shame to waste all of those metals. IKEA has battery recycling bins near the doorways of their stores. Don’t forget that those fluorescent lighbulbs have mercury in them and cannot be put in household trash.

  • Administrator April 9, 2007 (10:50 am)

    We’re sure others will rebut Eric’s link more eloquently than we can. Those anti-recycling arguments surface every few years. In fact, one decent set of rebuttals came three years earlier (now we’re going all the way back into the mid-’90s, so some things are bound to have changed since then).

  • Karma April 9, 2007 (11:21 am)

    I wish there were something more that could be done with the different plastics out there that are currently not accepted for recycling in Seattle. Deli take-out boxes, all the plastic packaging from Costco, etc. I try to buy things with less packaging but it seems like there is more than ever these days.

  • jissy April 9, 2007 (11:21 am)

    With regard to the metal coat hangers — drop them by a dry cleaners — they always appreciate reusing them.

  • Amy April 9, 2007 (12:30 pm)

    We keep a tall, slender plastic tub in the fridge for food waste, so it doesn’t attract fruit flies or smell. It’s an extra step to throwing away a banana peel, but it works for us.

  • pam April 9, 2007 (12:38 pm)

    We were recently alternately disappointed and pleased to learn about the restrictive Seattle recycling program. We got 20 bucks for our aluminum awnings from West Seattle Recycling, but the only reason we took them there is because the city, when we called, told us they were TRASH. It’s not just the participants that could do more – the city could expand the definition of what goes in the bin.

  • Cruiser April 9, 2007 (1:16 pm)

    I saw this headline once “Cycling is bad for the environment”…………… the article went on to say the more we cycle the healthier we are. Therefore the healthier we are the longer we live. Therefore the longer we live the more we waste!!! So Ive for a big mac and I ain’t cycling:)

  • Ginger Rodgers April 9, 2007 (2:26 pm)

    PLEASE come every week!

  • Jan April 9, 2007 (2:27 pm)

    hi, all… there is a Yahoo group called freecycleseattle. It’s totally free. Just Google freecycleseattle, and you will get the official website, with instructions of how to join. I would suggest that you create an e-mail address specifically for this. This site offers an alternate way of getting rid of things without taking to the dump. There is no bartering, no money exchange. The rules say what you offer has to be be totally free, and you have to state if it’s in disrepair or not. It’s not about passing your problems on to someone else…that’s not fair. And you have to be in the Seattle city limits. These groups are all over the country. You can post “wanted” items, too. This can generate a lot of e-mail, but if you opt for the digest thing, you may miss something. I have gotten a cuisinart, a bread maching, crystal, a computer desk…all free…I just have to go pick it up when I agree to. Try it…it’s pretty neat…

  • Sue April 9, 2007 (2:41 pm)

    Jan, I can’t speak for the Seattle Freecycle group, but I found that the one I used to use in NJ, and to a lesser degree the one up in the Lynnwood area, was more hassle than it was worth. Nobody ever seemed to come when they said they would for anything, and it was a waste of my time waiting – I usually ended up tossing the stuff out ultimately.

  • JE April 9, 2007 (2:56 pm)

    Quidnunc also takes electronic stuff for recycling. They do charge a fee; it’s similar to RePC, but much closer.
    Batteries: The Seattle Times had a more complete article on recycling batteries April 7th:

  • Jiggers April 9, 2007 (3:31 pm)

    Remember to take off your caps on plastic bottles( Coke,Pepsi soft drinks etc…) I see caps left on them. Throw the caps away and recycle the plastic.

  • Kathy April 9, 2007 (4:52 pm)

    I looked at the link in your comment. The informaiton is out-of-date.

  • Jan April 9, 2007 (5:30 pm)

    Sue…that was New Jersey…this is here…the freecycleseattle group is very active…try it…perhaps more people are open to it here because we do recycle much more than places on the east coast. I’ve never had a problem with someone not showing up.

  • Melissa April 9, 2007 (8:14 pm)

    If you happen by Ikea, they recycle batteries for free. And I too, know people who find Freecycle fabulous and have used it lots. Craigslist is good for giving stuff away too, if you don’t want it and it’s still useable. There’s also the leave-it-on-the-corner-with-a-free-sign technique, if you’re conscientous and take it to the dump if no one wants it. We’ve gotten rid of old dressers and chairs that way. Remember the old truism: one person’s junk is another person’s treasure.

  • Sue April 11, 2007 (10:03 am)

    Jan, I had the same experience in Lynnwood with no-shows, not just NJ. I’ll give the Seattle Freecycle a try though and see if it’s any better.

  • MargL April 11, 2007 (9:08 pm)

    I think IKEA also takes fluorescent lightbulbs, too. Or you can store them until the next King County wastemobile collection comes around. There’s one in Burien the week of the 20th.

    I found out that the Nike store downtown will take beat up athletic shoes – up to 10 pairs (you have to call if you have more) – for grinding and recycling into athletic field surfaces.

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