I'll admit - I'm not some sort of tree hugging Earth Lover. I try to do my part to make the Earth a better place, but I'm not all going to rallies and promoting a green lifestyle at all. I've realized that one of the reasons I like bargains so much is that I hate "waste" in general. I hate wasting money. I hate wasting water. I hate wasting food. I hate when things are overpackaged. My dislike of "waste" has made me more aware of my garbage! It's really amazing how a certain community's garbage regulations make me a better Earth Loving Person.
I lived in Washington state for a few years. When we bought our house, it came with two containers just like this (provided by the garbage service). A HUGE thing for recycling and a similar can for garbage. I told my husband when we first moved there, "Look at that recycling bin! We'll never fill that up!" But guess what? Since I had access to recycling EASILY, we recycled a lot and that bin was routinely filled each week. Washington has minimal restrictions on what's recyclable and what isn't. Plus, we were paying for the recycling service whether or not we used it. We might as well use it, right?
Then we moved back to Massachusetts. We got one of these lovely small blue bins. We had to separate newspapers, only put numbers 1, 2, 3, 5 & 7 or something in it, blah blah blah. Point being? We can fill this blue bin with our recyclable garbage in about a day and it was a hassle with all the weird rules they had (like ripping out the plastic off envelopes and no pizza boxes). I did acquire another blue bin, but still, it wasn't enough. I found myself throwing away a lot more stuff that was recyclable just because it wasn't easy to recycle. This lasted about 2 years.
Fast forward to today. (Yes, this is our actual garbage today for pick-up). We moved to another community in Massachusetts about a year and a half ago. At that time, the town developed what is known as "Single Stream Recycling." I actually read the pamphlets that came in the mail since we were new to the area and I read everything. I thought "Wow! This is easy! Just like WA!" We can recycle numbers 1-9 (that's like everything packaged - including styrofoam!), pizza boxes were back in the mix, I didn't have to rip out the little plastic in envelopes, and my personal favorite - I didn't have to separate newspaper! It all goes in one container - just like in Washington! But since we're freaks, we need 3 bins for recycling!
Sure, they didn't give us some handy dandy huge recycling container, but they gave us these bumper stickers and told us to put them on old trash barrels. I just put my garbage on the curb and I have to admit, we probably look like some tree-hugging freaks over here. Every 2 weeks, all my neighbors still only have that small blue bin out, where as we can fill 2 garbage cans and the blue bin every 2 weeks with recyclables. We usually only have one "garbage" can with 2 bags in it each week - where as my neighbors seem to have 2 or 3 garbage cans with garbage. I have to say - I think a big part of the reason is that people don't realize just how much is recyclable. For instance:
-Those foamy things that hold Ground Beef and Sausage all seem to have a #8 on them.
-We recently installed some ceiling fans - all the packaging from it had a Recycling #s on it (The styrofoam and the plastic baggies). Same thing with our recent swing set purchase - all the plastic baggies had a recycling # on them. It's not just food packaging that's recyclable!
-There is really no reason to throw away any paper whatsoever. It's all recyclable. Sure, you don't want stuff with CC#s or SSNs out there, but everything else is good to go. Junk mail, newspapers, & paper cartons all go into the mix.
-Virtually all cans, plastic, cardboard boxes and glass are recyclable.
So remember to check your own community's guidelines. Again, I'm not urging you to go out and hug a tree, but you're probably paying for a service that helps the Earth - so you might as well maximize that service!