I recycle. I generally know what to do with the average piece of paper, plastic, or biodegradable food. But every so often I find myself leaning over the bin at a loss...and wondering just how long it's going to take me to dispose of something properly. Maybe it is not, in fact, recyclable. Or maybe it involves more of a trek to some out of the way bin. These things I put in a drawer, with the best intentions.
The problem is this is natural behavior for many, and then, one day, in a fit of spring cleaning the whole pile gets tossed in the trash (my pile--well other than the meat--has moved to the basement).
Here are three things incorporated in daily life that I wish we had a better system for.
Contrary to popular opinion, meat can be composted--it just can be tricky. In many countries, the curbside collection agencies do take meat. Meat can even go in the compost bin if you are using the soil for your vegetable garden--it just has to be high-tech enough to reach the hot temperature needed to kill the pathogens. Meat can also go right in your garbage disposal (without the bones, to avoid mechanical difficulties). But if you don't have a garbage disposal and don't have a high-tech composter, well then you are often stuck throwing it in the regular trash. Of course, the greenest route is to cut back on your meat consumption or not eat meat at all.
In Germany, unlike in many countries, there is a system for battery disposal. You can take them to your local shopping area, track down the appointed bin, and voila. But this involves an extra step that many people won't take. Let's hope we will eventually come up with a green battery, a battery that doesn't leach toxic chemicals into the soil. Until then, try reusable or sola- powered batteries to reduce the amount you toss.
Often, electronics such as computers and cell phones can be recycled. The problem is each item needs to be handled differently. Maybe you can send the item back to the manufacturer free of charge, bring it back to the retailer, drop it off at a collection point, or sell it at a flea market. Maybe you can even get money for it.
But if there isn't an easy, painless process for recycling, people won't do it. Perhaps in the future we will have electronic or battery recycling bins in our backyards. Or perhaps people will come door-to-door and collect that dusty pile in your drawer and even give you cash in return. Until then, we'll just have to live on the idea that a landfill is just a tiny bit smaller thanks to our efforts.
More on Trash From TreeHugger and Planet Green
We Recycle for Earth Day: Electronics, Recycling
7 Examples of Amazing Art Created from Trash
How To Dispose of Toxic Household Waste In Your Own Backyard
4 Ways to Earn Cash From Recycling
Recycling Bins From Around the World
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