So. When last we met (many moons ago), I had a green wish list. The vast majority of that list is yet-to-be-purchased, sadly. The only things I can cross off are the recycling bags - I ended up getting these stacking recycling bins from the Container Store for my new apartment. Since the available wall space is pretty minimal in my kitchen, I needed bins with more vertical-ness to them, and so far they're working marvelously well. I bought three of the large ones, so I have one for paper, one for plastic/metal/glass, and one for when the other two are full. (Yeah, not ideal, but that's what's ended up happening.) Of course, I discovered after I bought them that the Chicago recycling drop-off sites don't actually need you to sort your recyclables, but I'd rather at least keep the paper separate from the other stuff - what if a can or whatever happens to be wet? In my neighborhood, recycling is a two-step process: 1) collect recyclables, 2) bring recyclables to drop-off site. Thus far, I've only been able to complete Step 1 because...I sold my car six months ago.
Yep, I am now living completely carless and am fully reliant on public transportation! I know this would be a huge sacrifice for a lot of people, but for me, giving up my car wasn't really that big a deal since I was taking the CTA to work and school anyway - parking downtown is just too expensive to be worth driving, especially when it wouldn't really save me any time or money in the long run. For those times when I need a car to travel outside the realm of public transit, or to move more stuff than I can carry on the train/bus, I joined I-Go, which is an hourly car-sharing operation similar to Zipcar, except that I-Go is a locally-owned non-profit corporation. I've used their cars quite a few times by now, and sure, it takes a little more planning than it did when I had my own car, but for my current situation in life, they are pretty darn ideal. I don't have to worry about gas prices, insurance, car repairs (cuz my old car definitely needed work), or moving my non-driven car according to the street-cleaning schedule to avoid parking tickets, and every time I do drive, the car is much newer and shinier, and much, much cleaner. Unfortunately, my current lack of free time coupled with the horrendous economy mean that I have to be very sparing with car trips, so dropping off my recycling is on hold until all bins are full.
And while I'm on the subject of recycling, I just learned today that this Sunday is America Recycles Day! Qu'est-ce que c'est?, I wondered, since I couldn't recall hearing about this before. According to their site, America Recycles Day is "the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products. Celebrating its 12th year, it has grown to include millions of Americans pledging to increase their recycling habits at home and work and to buy products made with recycled materials." There are apparently a ton of events and displays planned nationwide. I skimmed through a few states, and some of the events sound pretty creative. So yay, America Recycles Day! Part of me feels like we as a nation should already be past the need for a "holiday" like this (shouldn't recycling kind of be a given by now? I mean, San Francisco has already made composting mandatory, for goodness sake!), but then I remind myself that less than half of the recyclable "trash" in this country is actually recycled, while the majority of it ends up in landfills with the rest of our garbage. Clearly, many people still need to be informed and motivated.
As beneficial and as necessary as recycling is, an even better tactic that I've been doing my best to adopt is precycling - that is to say, rather than recycling the packaging from things I buy, instead I deliberately seek out things with little-to-no packaging to begin with. I'm pretty sure this is why it's taking so long for my recycling bins to fill up - I'm recycling less because there's less to recycle, not because more of it's going into the trash! And even my regular trash is taking much longer to fill up than it did before I moved. I'm sure a big part of that change is that there is now only one person, where previously there were three (and at one point, as many as five!), but part of it is also due to the fact that a much larger portion of my household waste is being diverted from the regular trash and into my recycling bins. On the downside, this also means that most of my regular trash now consists of a more-or-less even amount of non-recyclable waste and food waste, since I haven't been able to get a compost pail yet...and since I take out the trash less often (because why waste those expensive trash bags made from recycled plastic by taking the trash out when it's not full?), sometimes the food waste can get a little...fragrant. Luckily, that seems to be happening only slightly before the trash bag is actually filled up enough to take out, but still...I think I should move that compost pail up a bit higher on my To Buy list!