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We’ve Had Recycling this Whole Time!

We moved into our new home in mid-October 2012.  I saw a few recycling bins around the neighborhood, but I assumed it was an additional fee since only about a quarter of the houses seemed to have one.  Well, you know what assuming does…

Finally Looked Into Recycling

Well, the lack of easy recycling has been annoying me a little.  We are a household with 5 adults and throwing away aluminum and paper makes me cringe.  I was saving our aluminum cans and newspapers, and then would Craigslist them for free every few months.  But that was taking up a lot of room and brought in some bugs to the garage.  So I stopped earlier this year.  :-(

Overall, I’m not a sustainability fanatic in general, but I am a fan of doing the easy stuff to save money or help the environment.   For example, we use those energy-efficient light bulbs when we replace burned-out bulbs.  Why not?  The extra cost makes up for itself and then some apparently.  We also bought a Prius in 2008 instead of the SUV we were looking for since it had the storage we needed and cost $5000-$7000 less.  It having way better gas mileage is just a gigantic bonus for us.

In short, I was hoping to find an easy way to recycle that wouldn’t cost me extra.  When I was talking about that last week, one of our friends – Anne – offered to pick up our recycling every week when she visits and just throw it into her bin since her neighborhood just upgraded to those gigantic ones that are as tall as me.  I loved this idea but it did motivate me to call and see how much our own recycling bin would cost since I would feel a little bad sending our trash home with a friend every week.

Recycle

Bin on Its Way

I first called our water utility provider since that is who is listed as our trash provider as well on my home owner’s association’s webpage.  They nicely informed me that they did not run our trash, but they gave me the correct phone number.  So I called that one and had to leave a message.  A rep called me back within 10 minutes and let me know that they only handled trash, but they also were super friendly and gave me the phone number of the recycling company for our area.  I finally called the right number and found out some very interesting info!

Not only did they provide recycling bins, but the service was already paid for through fees on our water bill!  So I have been paying for recycling pickup for 6 months and didn’t even know it!  Moving on…our recycling bin will be dropped off today.  And I finally understand why our bill is about double that of our old house even though we use similar amounts of water.  So two birds with one stone, yay!

Now Recycling…

The company even seems to accept a lot of recyclables and I don’t even need to sort them:

  • Paper – magazines, newspapers, copy paper, computer paper, catalogs, pizza boxes, paper egg cartons, shredded paper tied tightly in plastic bags, etc.
  • Plastics – juice, water, milk, soda, cleaning and detergent containers (if in doubt, check container for stamp. Most plastics have mold stamp; they collect #1 – #7).
  • Thin Plastics – grocery store bags, dry cleaning bags, produce bags, plastic sleeves from newspapers
  • Aluminum – any type of soda, beer, drink, foil, pie pans, trays, etc.
  • Tin Cans – any food can, pet food, etc.
  • Cardboard – boxes, cereal, food, detergent, pet food, etc. (please break down larger boxes)
  • Glass

Getting the Word Out

I bet I’m not the only one who has been paying for recycling that they haven’t been using, so I’m trying to get the word out.  I posted a topic in the forums on my HOA’s website.  I updated my welcome-info form that I’ve been giving to all of the new families that move into this neighborhood.  And I am going to request the recycling company’s contact info be placed into the community newsletter.  With any luck, way more people in our neighborhood will be participating by this time next month.  :-)

Do you have recycling pickup where you live?  If not, make sure, lol.  Would you participate if you could?

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16 comments to We’ve Had Recycling this Whole Time!

  • That’s awesome. It’s a nice feeling to recycle the trash and knowing that you are helping the environment. It makes me feel guilty sometimes seeing all of those trash-related flooding because we did that.. Not all people are aware of it though.

  • Wow – glad you’re getting a bin! Recycling is built into your property taxes here (same with garbage and lawn waste) so we pay about $1 per week for it even if we don’t use it. But we’re happy to use it. Our recycling bin is usually much more full than the garbage. =)

  • That’s awesome! Having recycling is convenient. My parents don’t have recycling because they live in a super small town, but they are so green freaks, they collect in their backyard and go drop it off every month.

  • Awesome! We do have recycling in our area, but I’m not sure if it costs extra or not. To be honest I’m too lazy to walk our bin out to the street every week. We live in the back of a house (facing where the back yard would be) so that trek in the winter would not be fun.

  • In Los Angeles, it is a city service. There are bins for paper/plastic/cans, trash, and garden cuttings.

  • Meghan

    I recycle everything I can! I have been known to drive to other people’s recycling bins or take recycling to work when I don’t have an option at home.

    My old utility provider (in the house I owned July 08 – Dec 12) also included recycling in the water bill, and you could have extra recycling bins for free. I always filled up the recycling bin before the trash.

  • I regularly bug my alderman to find out when our ward will be joining the city’s “Blue Cart” recycling program. Sometime this year is all they can tell me. Most likely we will be the last area to get the carts this year. It’s really frustrating to me because there are households about 6 blocks from my house that have had recycling carts *for more than a year*, yet I don’t have one yet. :-(

    Instead I have an area in my office with reusable bags for the recycling. I don’t like having to store them in the house, but there’s no other place to put them. (Like most houses in Chicago, we don’t have an attached garage.) When the bins are full, we take them to the recycling drop off center about a mile away.

    We recycle *a lot* and put pretty much everything in the bins that you’ve listed above. Between recycling, composting (outdoor bins for yard waste and indoor worm bin for kitchen waste), and feeding food scraps to the hens, we produce about one 13-gallon bag of trash about every two weeks in our household of two people. If I composted the paper products like tissues and paper towels, we could probably go three weeks to fill a standard kitchen trash bag (13-gallon.) The recycling containers fill it pretty quickly, though.

  • KC, yeah, I think of the floating trash in the ocean that takes up enough space for a small state and just cringe.

    @Mrs. Pop, got the bin this morning and it’s already full from the last few days that we stocked up. I’m going to call and see if we can get two…

    @Savvy, more power to them!

    @Kyle, what’s “winter”? ;-)

    @krantcents, cool beans. :-)

    @Meghan, I need to call and ask for if they would give me another bin…

    @Linda, that’s awesome. :-) We’ll still produce 1-2 bags of trash per week because there are 5 of us and foam isn’t recyclable (fast food drink cups), but our bin was delivered this morning and is already full. :-)

  • I try to recycle anything I can, and hate that I’ve moved to an area that doesn’t offer it without an additional fee that we can’t afford right now. That’s great that you are able to recycle now and are working to get the word out. Hopefully your neighbors will start to follow suit!

  • retired

    When we used bins and asked for a second one, the contractor said we could only get another if it was lost or stolen. So I was going to call and say mine was lost, when the neighbor I was chatting with about it held up a finger and went into the back of her garage. She handed me a green recycling bin. Seems the city had had several different recycling contractors and they each gave her new bins. She insisted she didn’t need or use it, so presto, we had two recycling bins. Now the city collects the recycling in a plastic bag donated by a local company for free. So we use our bins for storage in the garden. They are really sturdy containers that have lasted for years now. They don’t recycle glass because it could cut their workers and now, it could cut through their bags, which is a pity. I am not sure if they like the fact we flatten out boxes and put it in with the plastic, paper, and cans; but we stick it in anyway. Good Luck.

  • That’s interesting…and how amazing that you had to squirrel around to find a phone number for the recycling people!

    Our recycling company also accepts all sorts of mixed-together debris. However, they hate loathe and despise plastic bags, which they say will gum up their equipment. And they don’t like pet food bags, for reasons unexplained. Or shredded paper — you’re not allowed to dump that in the recycling bins.

    I recycle everything that seems to be eligible. Because I avoid buying processed foods and don’t drink soda pop, there’s relatively little packaging and aluminum to go in there. But since EVERYTHING is overpackaged these days, there’s still enough, along with the newspapers, to fill it every two or three weeks.

  • Our city went to a city wide trash hauler a few years ago. It cut our costs in half from what we’d been paying, and they also introduced a recycling program that kicks butt. They take practically anything and they have a rewards program that saves you money at various places around town or online based on your recycling (the truck weighs your bin).

  • Great that you’re spreading the word! Once you get into the habit, it really doesn’t take any extra effort, and makes such an amazing difference when so many collaborate.

  • Our trash company picks up recycling – and it’s “free” (legally required by the county, but you can’t get recycling without paying for trash service). We pay for a 64gal big bin for trash, because that’s the smallest one they have. BUT, we also have a 64gal recycling bin, and at anytime, you can put a cardboard box marked RECYCLING next to the recycling bin, and they will take that too.

    We have *way* more recycling than we do trash – technically our trash pickup is twice a week, with recycling only once per week :( I wish it were the other way around – we never put trash out on the non-recycling day, but we regularly put out an extra box. We even called to see if there was a 1x week trash service for less, but because of negotiated rates with our HOA, the 1x week trash pickup is more expensive than the 2x week trash pickup.

    We’re lucky in that we don’t have to separate anything – and we can recycle a lot of random stuff that some places won’t recycle (like plastic clamshell containers from takeout), so it all goes in the bin. About the only thing we can’t recycle from home is grocery bags. We have reusable bags, so we don’t often get the grocery bags, but my mom sends me home with things in them constantly…

  • @Kayla, hopefully!

    @retired, nice re-use of a recycling bin!

    @Funny, the companies all seem to have different requirements…

    @Money Beagle, some neighborhoods in south Houston have a system like that! Amanda at Frugal Confessions does for example and she makes me so jealous. :-)

    @Mike, exactly!

    @Mom @ Three is Plenty, I asked if we could have an extra bin, but it would cost a one-time fee of $10.83. BUT, they’ll send us stickers for free and suggested that I use a plastic tub or garbage can of my own and just stick the sticker on it. :-)

  • Great advice! The same thing happened to me in New Orleans.