Advice about Recycling
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Advice about Recycling
I moved to Berkeley about 4 months ago and I feel like I'm not recycling as much as I
could! Living in Colorado I was able to single-stream just about everything but the
recycling program here only takes glass, #1 & 2 plastic bottles, and metal cans. What
about the other recyclables?? They said it isn't easy to recycle the other stuff or
it's not financially possible for them but I HATE throwing the stuff in the trash!!
Should I be saving it for a different program? Is there anywhere I can drop other
Thanks for any help in redirecting my trash!!!
P.S. I'm loving the compost program - I've never been able to participate in one
Good news! Mayor Bates has proposed, and hopefully implemented, that we can put all of our
plastics into our recycling bins. In other words, you don't have to separate the #1 & #2s from
the #3 throu #6s. So I've just been putting all plastics into our bin. And haven't been told
to stop doing that. Berkeley is really trying to move to Zero Waste and he thinks this is a
major step for doing that.
Take your yogurt cups, iced latte cups, and bubble wrap (and a ton of other things!) to the El
Cerrito Recycling Center. It is a beautiful place for those of us who are frustrated with
Berkeley's stupid recycling policies. Google it for guidelines on what you can recycle there.
I'll be interested to hear if there's any other place like it!
You want to visit the El Cerrito Recycling Center! They take an amazing array of stuff. I'm
in Albany, which takes more things for recycling curbside than Berkeley does, but I still
gobring a lot of my recycling to the center in E.C. because I sense they actually recycle more
Check out the El Cerrito recycling center. They take lots of stuff and you can save up and
take it there.
I know you asked about recycling, but I can't help but make a plug for 'reducing' before recycling.
After her family was featured in Sunset Magazine, I started following tips from Bea Johnson's blog at
ZeroWastehome.blogspot.com. Her mantra is to to buy minimally packaged items and to bring your own
containers as much as possible. At first, I thought that following the approach would cause more
stress, but over time I found that the approach actually reduced my anxiety (I had previously spent a
lot of time worrying about those birds in the Midway Islands.) I am not as diligent as Bea in that I
still buy a lot of packaged food (e.g. beer, wine, crackers, food packaged in plastic bags) but I
avoid things like frozen entrees, meat packaged in styrofoam, and plastic takeout containers.
Interestingly, grocery shopping became easier/lighter as I am now purchasing mostly food (and not
If you are ever near Whole Foods, they collect wine corks (you have to give them to someone inside at
the wine department), and also have a separate collection container outside for all #5 plastics. It
gets collected by a company that makes stuff from it (razors, toothbrushes, etc.)
Not to be preachy but recycling really is not a good solution to the problem of reducing your trash,
it is energy intensive and things are continually down cycled so it does not prevent depletion of
It is far better to actually reduce consumption of single use products and things that come in
packaging. (As in reduce, reuse..... Then recycle) this something I have been tring and it is
incredibly difficult but its a good goal.
Check out. My plastic free life ( don't have URL )
Trying to rid my life of plastic
We just moved to the Oakland area and I have a question about recycling. I expected this
area to be big recyclers but am surprised in the limited list that is picked up in
Oakland (just paper and very small list of plastics). Is there somewhere in the Oakland /
Berkeley area that people recommend taking your other plastic items to be recycled?
Oakland has a very comprehensive recycling program--just about
everything goes in. If you're in an apartment, your landlord may have
given you an outdated list--it used to be the case that multi-unit
buildings had very limited service. Luckily, this isn't true anymore,
and you can put cans, bottles, all plastics (tubs and bottles, any
number), aluminum foil, milk cartons, aerosol cans, any cardboard or
paper, soup and drink boxes, egg cartons, and most metals in. This has
been true for single-family homes and smaller apartments for a number
of years (these homes also have food scrap recycling; the city is
still working on that for larger apartment complexes). Welcome to
As you know, putting your items in the recycling bin is just the first
step. It's what happens afterwards -- sorting, processing, reselling
to manufacturers, and the manufacture of new items -- that's the
actual recycling. From what I've heard, the types of plastic Oakland
does not accept are the ones with a low resale value -- they just
don't get enough money from the sale of those plastics to recoup the
costs of collecting, sorting, storing etc.
Berkeley has pretty much the same restrictions as Oakland. Marin
County residential recycling bins say ''cans, bottles and jars''
because that's what they collect. Label a bin ''glass, aluminum and
plastic'' and well-meaning folks will put in window glass, light
bulbs, plastic bags and takeout containers -- none of which do the
environment or the recycling collectors any favors.
Stopwaste.org has a list of who accepts what in Alameda County -- they
will be able to answer your questions and direct you to a facility
that accepts your stuff.
Cans, bottles and jars
We live in Oakland and recycle a huge amount every week. Here's what
can go in your gray bin:
Good for you. My favorite Alameda County recycling Web site is
And El Cerrito has a great recycling center that our family visits
every several months; they even take block styrofoam:
It is so frustrating! We live in the Thousand Oaks area of N. berkeley. For the
most part it is a pretty quiet, residential neighborhood. Every Tuesday morning,
often literally minutes before the recycling truck comes by someone is out there
digging in our recycling bins to steal cans. Sometimes this goes on in the
middle of the night./early morning. The noise wakes everybody up, and also it
feels very intrusive. Sometimes I find bottles scattered on the front lawn. I don't
know how to handle this anymore. I have tried yelling at the thieves (there are
several) to stop, but that doesn't seem to be a permanent solution. Plus, there
have been a few who I was afraid to confronting. Some drive to the
neighborhood to fill their trucks or cars with the stollen cans. I even tried
calling the police but my concern was not taken seriously. I guess the Berkeley
Police have better things to so..
Swapping out the old plastic bins with the new garbage-can-like recycling
containers was intended to deter this behavior but these thieves have managed
to get around it. One comes regularly with a long claw-like instrument that he
uses to retrieve the cans. We tried hiding the bins (back when they were just
bins) until pickup time, but it was difficult to predict the arrival of the truck and
get them out in time.
What do people do? Any suggestions? Is everyone having this problem? Perhaps
I am overreacting.
Yes, you are overreacting. I would venture to guess that the
''thieves'' who ''steal'' your recycling late at night or in the
early hours would much rather be comfortably settled in
their homes and beds than engaging in this informal economy
that I'm sure barely helps get them by. What is ''so
frustrating'' to you, a bit of noise, is how they are trying
to survive. Get some perspective and be thankful for your
life and its privileges. And, if you're like me, get some
earplugs if you are sensitive to outdoor noises (I'll say
that my 2 yr old is much louder than those thieves in the
night). Or put your cans out when you get up in the morning
(how early do garbage collectors really come?) and when the
noise surely can't bother you that much (though it seems
that other things about these people are bothering you).
this is survival for some
I've let this issue go. The recycling is being stolen from the recycling
not from me. The noise is intrusive, and so is the picking through, but I shred
documents and try to keep the containers away from my house so that the
intrusion isn't so far into my property. And this is not a high-paying
usually a desperate way to make money (at least in my neighborhood--yours
does sound a bit more professional with the big trucks).
We are in rough times with billions of people having lost homes, jobs ect.
My advice to you would be to put your good recycling in double paper bags in
front of the recycling bins. That way the ''thieves'' as you call them will
walk up, grab the bag and go. People have to be pretty down on their luck to
go around to dirty, smelling, disease infested, possibly harmful bins and dig
their arms or ''hooks'' in to get 5 cents. House to house to house = work.
Maybe you could find a little job for one of the ''thieves'' like mowing the
or raking leaves. You could change a life. Imagine what it's like to be
hungry. It hurts. I get headaches when I forget to eat or don't have time to
get my morning coffee. Can you imagine sleeping outside in the cold with
crazies? I think some of these people are just trying to get a better life any
way they can., (no pun intended). Taking cans and recycling them for the
$10-$20 so that they can eat for the day gives them nothing leftover. Try
buying shoes, socks, underwear, shirts, pants ect. Sleeping bag, mat,
flashlight, backpack, water, food, ect on $10-? a day. Forget about health
concerns: toothaches, arthritis, gout, shingles, ect from a bad diet and
sleeping in the elements. Some have alcohol addictions but most of us would
too if we lost everyone and everything and became invisible. Please try to
have some compassion. If you are a spiritual woman try to see these people
as angels being sent to you for help. You can maybe get a list of all the
kitchens and pantries in your area that supply food without an state i.d. or
places that would be helpful for homeless people and make copies to give
them. Or, maybe you could donate food in with your recycled cans. You
could tell the ''thieves'' that you don't mind them taking the cans but could
they be quiet. I don't know, I have the same problem here, but I see these
people as me, I could so easily be them so I have to have compassion.
We must try to see ourselves in others, for we could so easily be in their shoes
one day. Just a thought.
Put your bottles & cans in a bag beside the recycling bin. Then they can
just pick it up and move on - no digging, no mess, less noise.
Pay it forward
No, you are not alone. Yes, these people are incredibly annoying.
What they are stealing is revenue that would go to the Ecology Center, the
good people who bring Berkeley its farmers' markets, among other services
that we in this town value highly.
You can and should call the police. They will not do much, however, as the
thieves move quickly and will be gone from your location by the time they
show up. If they do see them, they probably won't even cite them.
The Ecology Center has a page up about how/why to call the police with
poaching complaints. It is here:
You might call and ask to speak with your beat officer too. They might have
some suggestions for you and your neighbors to implement.
Another option is to forego curbside recycling and instead bring your
recyclables to the Ecology Center. Yes that is a hassle, takes time, and isn't
carbon neutral. It's a terrible option, really, but if you happen to drive over
Other solutions are more systemic and so harder to implement, but maybe
you will want to get active and champion them in the community. Is there a
technical solution, such as some kind of locking bin that only opens when the
recycling truck gets it? Or maybe we ought to go back to store-based
recycling -- when I was a child we dropped off bottles at the supermarket
where we'd bought them.
In any event, use the knowledge that your home is regularly studied by people
with a low moral threshold to take necessary security measures. 50% of
property crime in Berkeley is committed by non-residents, so we are a ''soft
target'' for out of towners. Are there motion-activated lights in the right
places at your home? Do you have and use locks on doors and gates?
Poaching is a crime of opportunity, so make sure there aren't other
opportunities to address besides this one.
It is beyond frustrating to be awakened by such racket, but
have you thought about why someone might go through your
trash in the first place? They must be fairly desperate.
Recycling centers do not pay lawyer's salaries. Even if
they have cars, they are still low enough on the income
scale to get up in the dark and dig through filthy trash to
make a few bucks. That said, noise and mess are a nuisance.
Would it be a pain to put cans in a separate bin on the
side, and neighbors do the same? You say you have yelled,
and a couple folks are scary looking, but could you or one
of your neighbors talk to the scavengers about how this
might be done with less interruption of your sleep? If they
come in cars, they must be regulars. Present the noise
problem to the friendlier looking scavengers and ask them
for ideas. If you're awake anyway... Good luck!
been poor before
In this day and age, in this state, where there are a lot of
people truly struggling to make ends meet; I think we can
all put up with a little annoyance involving the recycling
collectors. There are some who are angered by it because it
takes money away from the city. There are some who simply
don't like having people roaming around their neighborhood.
You live in North Berkeley, probably have a beautiful home,
a good job and lots of things to be thankful for. While I
understand your annoyance, I think it isn't really
appropriate to get too upset over it. I don't think anyone
is going around digging in people's garbage for the fun of
it. I would advise patience, compassion and feeling thankful
for all that you have.
Call the cops every single time. The City Council recently
revised the law to make it clear it's illegal. They also
added $10 a month to your garbage bill (you can check it) to
fund the recycyling program because theft of material has
led to the program losing money. So you're paying the City
to not pick up the recycling because the thieves have stolen it!
The thieves also use the cover of recycling to case our
neighborhoods. They watch you come and go in the morning,
look into our yards for bikes, lawnmowers, tools, anything
they can steal and sell at the flea market.
If you go to the City's website and search ''poaching'' (the
PC correct term for theft of recycling, there are a number
of hits that will give the City's position.
But the number 1 thing to do is call the cops EVERY SINGLE
TIME. They won't come each time because it is a low
priority, but if they can come, they will. In Elmwood this
week, they actually ticketed a guy.
Pissed Off, Too
I'm pretty sure this happens everywhere. Either way, I like
to think the people who are ''stealing'' the cans probably
need that money and this is way better than other ways of
them getting by. I guess I'm also used to random noise at
night as it doesn't wake me up. Is the noise the main issue
for you, or the mess? I think this may be one where you just
learn to share and have a cleaning party after trash day.
You could also acknowledge that they will come no matter
what and set cans aside for them to pick up so they won't
make a mess or as much noise. More work for you though.
And yes, the Berkeley Police have better things to do.
There are alot of people, even in our own community, who are struggling
in a ''third world'' kind of way. Can you imagine digging through someone's
trash to ''steal'' cans in order to be able to feed your own children? I don't
think it is a situation they relish. Perhaps you could help them out and
you'd both win. Perhaps put the cans they want in a bag on top of the
recycling so they don't have to dig and make noise. Or maybe give them
$5, which is surely more than they get from the cans in your bin. Get
creative. Be kind. And count your lucky stars. You are not digging
through someone elses waste to provide for your family. I would say,
don't let it go, but let it help you be more aware of other people's realities.
Yes, you are over reacting!! Our North Berkeley Neighborhood
had the same discussion on this topic and it was quite
We have regular's that come 'retrieve' the cans. The
neighborhood wanted the Berkeley PD to be called on each
case and arrest them for stealing. Now, really are we going
to waste local tax dollars on people trying to get a few
cans to get something to eat or have other needs.
I had told our email group to put the shoe on the other
foot. I know for sure that if I needed to collect $40 worth
of cans for something to eat, I would.
I started putting all the cans and bottles in a brown paper
bag next to the bin. Then the person needing the cans and
bottles can take what they need without disturbing anyone,
diving, or even cutting themselves on broken glass.
Most folks that need the recycling are just trying to make a
bit of change. Maybe 'you' need to change. Leave out some
food for the person needing the cans...whatever that maybe.
We have one elder Asian lady that comes every week. I make
sure to greet her and give her something. I can't imagine
being an elder having to collect cans to make ends meet.
Talk to the person and say 'I don't mind you taking the
cans, but can you do it quietly and not leave a mess?'
If you think it's intrusive to 'your' neighborhood then have
a meeting on how you can deter these people. I can guarantee
that you will be looked at quite weird.
Don't put your bins out till the truck pulls up if you don't
It must be nice to live where you live thinking of ways to
stop others from trying to get their needs met.
We are in a major recession and not just homeless have taken
to the cans, parents have taken to the cans too. I know I
would if needed.
I'm sorry that you're disturbed by it all. But think about
if everything you had was gone, no shelter, food, clothes,
how would you make it????????
There are solutions, calling the PD is not one of them!!!!
I am sitting here listening to my garbage collectors
outside. Wow, is it loud. Why do you not have a problem with
the noise of the garbage truck? Because it's at 6am and not
5:30am? Because it's not ''stealing''? I heard the people who
come for our recycling early this morning, rolled over with
my ear plugs, and went right back to sleep. I find it hard
to imagine that your family's hearing is so sensitive that
that level of noise wakens everyone. If you're so sensitive
to some noises and not others, perhaps take a minute to
consider why. Relax. Put the trash out in the morning. And
be happy that you are in your safe and secure home.
be grateful you're not needing to work like that
While your posts sounds like having people going through your recycling feels
intrusive, please remember no one WANTS to do that job. They do it so they can
feed their children. They do it because they can not get jobs elsewhere. They
do it so they can survive.
A Different Perspective
I think you are overreacting. This is recycling. You are getting rid of it.
than leaving a mess on your lawn, which is annoying and frustrating, I'd let it
It seems the people who are taking your cans are doing so for money, most
likely to feed their families. I doubt anyone is getting rich off of stealing
recycling. If you want the money for it, take it to a center yourself.
someone else to the dirty work if it helps them in some way. This is the same
way I look at donating books and clothes when people come and snap them up
and sell them-they need the money more than I do, they MUST need it to go
through all that work. It's just not worth it to me to sort it, take it to a
get what... pennies? Quarters? (this also kind of reminds me of the post where
people were using other's garbage cans... let them throw their garbage away,
rather than on the street! I know that wasn't what you were talking about
give up a little control
About the recyclers, I too have fought my own war against
them. They literally start trolling our south berkeley
neighborhood on Sundays (pick up is on Monday, but we have
lots of neighbors who make it one of their Sunday chores to
put out the trash/recycling/green bin on Sunday). There are
people who come with noisy carts, people who walk with saks
on their backs, trucks, cars, vans that circle over and
over. I am also tired of this, but I've learned that it
goes nowhere with the police. At all hours of the wee
morning on the day of recycling pick up, there is
frequently someone parked under my bedroom window sorting
their glass, smashing cans, etc. (there's a street light
nearby). I usually speak loudly out my bedroom window and
ask them not to do it there. While most of these folks are
not beligerent or scary, I will admit that I wonder if I
don't piss them off as much as they piss me off and that
one day they will vandalize my car or home. So far this
hasn't happened. Anyway, I just tell you this to say that
you are not alone. We have been setting out our recycling
at the last possible moment- but even then it often gets
pilfered. While I am sympathetic to people who do what they
can to make a few bucks in a terrible economy, this is
really a nuisance. And, by the way, it's not stealing,
technically, because you have put it out on the curb for
collection. However, I find, as a homeowner, that I am
outraged that our property tax dollars that we spend on
recycling go up while the rate of collection, it seems,
goes down - we subsidize a long term contract that loses
money every year. I'm glad someone else is willing to put
this out there - I have been reluctant to mention this to
my neighbors and see if there is a neighborhood solution
because I've sensed my view was a minority, but maybe its
hates recycling day too!
This will probably sound weird, but I would put all cans
in a separate bag, label it as such, and leave it next to
your recycling bin for the ''thieves''. The economy is
crappy. I imagine that people who do this to you are in a
dire financial situation and these cans probably provide
the much needed income (do you really care who gets your
cans?). This would also take care of the noise and
bottles/cans left on your lawn.
Do you seriously consider someone taking your trash ''stealing''?! Stealing
is when someone breaks into your house and takes something of value to
you. Do you not notice how hard collectors work to make a living? Have
you ever tried dragging one of those shopping cart contraptions several
miles to Gilman street to make a few bucks? Would you prefer that these
people sit on the street and pander for spare change? In both places I've
lived in Berkeley the collectors had established territories, and so I came
to know who was taking my bottles. In fact, in my first neighborhood, the
collector was somewhat of a night guard for us. In my current home, I set
aside all of my bottles for an elderly woman to collect so she can afford to
stay in her home of forty years across the street. Try a little generosity,
and remember how fortunate you are in your thousands oaks home.
One man's trash is another man's treasure.
We too have a recycling burglar in El Cerrito. Wakes me up
about 4am every Tuesday morning clanking around in the
recycling bins. It's annoying, but obviously someone who
needs the money - so, as annoying as it is, I just let it be.
Without trying to get into a debate about whether people
should be allowed to steal the recyclables the reality is
that they will continue to do so. I don't know how to get
around the noise of the pilfering happening late at night or
in the wee hours of the morning unless you put your
recycling out first thing in the morning and hope you don't
miss the truck.
The main thing I have done is to be friendly with the folks
and just ask that they keep it tidy. I am an occasional free
box rummager myself so I just make that parallel with them
that I always try to keep the area cleaner than I found it
so people will keep putting out boxes of free stuff. I play
the buddy role and I find they have responded well and don't
leave a mess.
If that is not acceptable then you could keep your recycling
entirely inaccessible and take it to the recycling center
Why not put your cans in a seperate bag next to the
recycling bin for the ''seeker'' to pick up? There are a lot
of people who are out of work and really depend on these
items to survive. I'm sure they would rather not have to go
''steal'' these items but have no other choice. Hard times
fall on good people.
First, I want to say that I don't think that people going through your recycling
once you put it on the curb is ''stealing.'' If they are ''stealing'' from
anyone, it is
the recycling company. And for some, this is the only way they have found to
make a little money to buy food for their families. It is yucky, hard work for
them, but I applaud them for trying to find a way to make it through.
That said, if it bothers you so much, you can either recycle these things
and get your 5 cents a bottle/can or you can store them separately and drop
them off to a charity that is doing this. We happen to do this ourselves and
bags every month or so to Lakeshore Baptist Church in Oakland since our kids
went to their pre-school.
Found my own peace
Someone pays a deposit on every can or bottle. Technically, you have the
reclaim the deposit you have paid for those cans or bottles, but you can
to ''donate'' those deposits to the recycling centers.
If you want them to get the money, drive them there yourself. Otherwise,
collectors will take them and receive the reclaimed deposits that you paid
cans or bottles.
I like to think of this as helping someone else have a little bit of a
fortunate to be employed
I find the ''poachers'' annoying as well. I felt compelled to
respond because so many people suggested that you are
overreacting and to let it go. I agree that the noise is a
nuisance and quite frankly it draws people to my
neighborhood that are peeking over fences and going around
the side of houses to check and see if their recycling is
accessible. There has been a rise of smashed car windows and
break-ins in my neighborhood and and I really feel like it
is related to people who need money and are looking for ways
to make it. That said, you have every right to want your
neighborhood to be a certain way so I recommend that you
report the poaching as often as you can and send the
poachers to other neighborhoods where apparently many people
are okay with it.
Wow, I was shocked at the number of people who said just
to leave the recycling thieves alone. I am in the camp of
the person who is outraged that we now have to pay an
extra $10/month to get our recycling collected. And this
was the good solution because the City of Berkeley was
considering eliminating the recycling program because it
was costing so much money. So we have to pay because
thieves steal the things of value.
For the people who say it is a tough economy that is
leading to this may have forgotten that has been a problem
for a long time way before the bad economy started. And it
doesn't matter how courteous they are. One of the times
our house was broken into the thieves just stole all our
valuables and one of the times the thieves stole all our
valuables and made a mess. But both sets of people were
As a solution, we moved into a condo complex that has
common recycling bins that are stored behind locked doors.
You can get locks keyed to both your key and the city key
and keep recycling behind locked doors. I'm not sure if
they will do this for an individual but you could look
Recycling thieves make me crazy
There was a helpful article on ''urban miners,'' the poaching of
the people who do it from the Contra Costa Times in 2003.
Some are recent immigrants hauling two to three loads a day to buyback
centers near the Port of Oakland in rickety pick-up trucks. The garbage
industry calls them the ''Mosquito Fleet.'' They make a much better living
doing that than they would in other jobs. About $195 a day paid in cash.
mostly focus on small businesses who don't mind them hauling cardboard,
bottles and other stuff away. Gas and insurance cut into margins, and
recycled products are commodities, the prices paid for them fluctuate a
Then there is the lower echelon of recyclers or poachers, people down on
their luck scavenging for recyclables. They are the most conspicuous and
make the least.
Typically the police only get involved when people complain about
or there seems to be an organized attempt to intercept curbside binds on
recycling days. Otherwise it's chalked up to the cost of doing business.
One thing I'd like to add to this discussion is how the
people who come around and take recyclables out of
recycling bins are also people who pick recyclables out of
garbage (saving it from landfill) and off the street and
wherever else people litter. They're practically
performing a public service in this respect.
count your blessings
I collect recycling for a good cause. I don't take
other's recycling without permission, though.
I came to this county from Peru and I am an animal lover
and dog owner. I often send money to Peru to help care
for cats and dogs.
What I do is I use my contacts with family and friends to
pay to have dogs and cats sterilized and provide for
general health care, medicines or surgeries if needed.
One of the ways I pay for this is by collecting
recyclables such as cans and bottles. I recycle them in
Berkeley and use the money in Peru.
But if someone wants to donate their cans and bottles to
me, I would appreciate it.
I heard someone rattling my recycling bin early this
morning, and thought about your question. In the Old
Testament, one of the commandments is not to harvest to the
edges of the fields, but to leave that food for the poor. In
''The Book of Ruth,'' the widows Naomi and her daughter-in-law
Ruth, are gleaners who live off the what remains of the harvest.
We are living in times of 10% official unemployment, and far
higher actual unemployment, which includes people who have
given up looking for work, and those who are involuntarily
working part-time. No one who had a decent job, or
retirement benefits, would be going through the recycling.
Although the process is messy, the contents of our recycling
bins are the corners of our fields.
Technically, once you put garbage/recycling out on the street you are no
longer the legal owner, so you should not label this as 'stealing'. We
had/have the same thing happen in our neighborhood, sometimes with lots
of noise at 3am in the morning. We dealt with it by purposely separating
out recycling that the collectors want (bottles and cans with CRV). My
husband also went out upon waking at 3am to give the 'regulars' food and
politely ask them to try to be more quiet if there was a lot of noise.
Try to have some compassion, no one enjoys digging in a trash can.
These people are desperate for money/food etc. You are causing yourself
anguish and suffering over an issue you have no control over. Try to
imagine what life in their shoes is like....
Hoping you find peace with this.
I'm trying to figure out if I have to rinse out cans and
bottles for them to actually be recycled in Albany. EBMUD,
in their newsletter, says it's a waste of water to rinse
containers, since they all get washed at the recycling
facility anyway. Albany's guidelines say they must be
''empty,'' but it's not clear how clean that means. Also,
since we put all recyclables, including paper, in the same
can, putting un-rinsed containers in means the paper may get
soiled - which means it should go into food waste can, not
the mixed recycling. I hate to waste water, but I also don't
want the whole lot to be unfit for recycling. What do you
Get a plastic bucket or dishpan. Soak 4 or 5 bottles/cans in
soapy water for 5 min. Pour the soak water in a bucket. Do
it again if you have more. When you have accumulated 1.8
gal. you can use it to flush the toilet (just pour directly
into bowl), or to water ornamental plants outside.
You really, really do not need to rinse cans and bottles
that just contained liquid -- just shake them out before
putting in with the mixed stuff. If it's a can of
something that might get messy, give it a quick rinse if
you want but there's no need for it to be super clean.
The whole thing about mixed recycling is that some of the
stuff (paper etc) ends up being lower quality but on the
whole it encourages people to recycle so much more (by
making the process easier) that it's worth it.
Married to a recycling ''professional''
My sister just moved to a mid-size town in Tennessee and is
shocked that they have no city recycling program. Any ideas how
to go about starting one?
Check with The Ecology Center; they run the City of Berkeley's
excellent curbside program: 510/527-5555,
I am a big fan of recycling, but find the piles an eyesore as well as
a temptation to inquisitive kids. How do you collect your weekly
recycling? This is what I do, which doesn't work too well: paper bags
in entry way for papers and cardboard; tall trash can in kitchen for bottles,
cans and plastic. Please share any better ideas. Thank you!
Get thee to Ikea! I got a large plastic container with lid that I keep
outside my door to throw cans and other recyclables into. I put used
newspapers into a plain plastic bin, also outside. Both were under $10
at Ikea in the home organization section. Good luck.
What to do about the recycling -- we have the same problem at our
house! I recently stopped the daily paper because I couldn't deal with
all the newspapers anymore. So that is one less brown paper bag to deal
with. Any occasional newsprint I just add to the mixed paper. For mixed
paper, I bought two blue recycling wastebaskets from Office Max - the
ones like you see in people's offices - they cost about 8 bucks and
they are about the same size as a paper bag. But they are better than a
paper bag because they don't split, they don't fall over and they are
easily identifyable by all FMs. I put one in the kitchen (for junk mail,
empty cereal boxes, magazines, etc) and one in the home office (for
printer and homework discards). This has worked great. Meanwhile, the
cans and bottles are in the city-supplied bins outside next to the back
door. We have two. The raccoons do go through them every night and
they are unsightly but at least they are not inside underfoot. FMs are
pretty good about tossing their bottles/cans out the back door instead
of just leaving them on the kitchen counter.
The only problem I have is junk mail. About 75% of our mail is junk,
including big stuff like catalogs. There's a ton of it everyday. The FM
who usually sorts the mail wants to stand next to the front door to do
it, and wants to be able to drop the junk into a waiting receptacle
without having to go a few steps into the kitchen. I didn't want to put
the recycling bin in the front entryway because it is not very
attractive plus there is not a lot of space. But I haven't been able to
convince this FM that he should open the mail in the kitchen. So we
have an imperfect system where an attractive wastebasket has been placed
in the front entryway for the purpose of opening and sorting mail. Every
few days, in theory, its contents are combined with the other paper
recycling in the kitchen, but in practice it is overflowing by the time
recycling day rolls around and looks unsightly (except for the
attractive container). So I am hoping for some hints from others about
What works for me is to bring in the mail every day, quickly glance through
it in the vain search for "real" mail, and stick it in a box in the garage.
Then once a week I sort through it, in the kitchen, near the paper recycling
container :), and then I pay the bills all at once too. It does turn into a
big job, but I think it saves time to do it all at once.
Our solution to the recycle container near the front door is one of those
lidded kitchen trash cans in an attractive hunter green. It's larger than
a usual trash can, and lidded, so the recycle stays neatly contained until
we empty it each week. (And we now do empty it each week because our new
maids can't seem to figure out the difference between trash and recycle,
even with the international symbol taped to the front of the container!)
But even if you don't empty it every week, as long as you don't get a
newspaper it shouldn't be a problem.
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