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Redefining Waste

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Redefining Waste

For the most part, I’m a live-and-let-live kind of girl but there is something going on in my community that really turns my stomach, and I’m writing today with the hope that it will keep me from chaining myself to the dumpster down the street.

Dramatic? Yes, but I have to do something.

Week after week, I drive the two miles between my house and the lot behind our community’s rec center where those of us without curbside pickup take our trash. There are bins to recycle cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, aluminum and tin, and a non-profit organization has a trailer there where we can drop off donations. There are four huge bins for assorted types of waste destined for the landfill.

In my small town, it could not be any easier to let go of that which no longer serves us in a way that honors the earth. And still, every week, when I arrive with my car full of stuff we’re done with, I pull in behind someone hurling a truck full of recyclable and donatable goods straight into the landfill-bound bins.

After four years of this same experience over and over again, I feel ready to come undone. Why aren’t we all doing everything in our power to keep all but true waste out of the landfill?

Recently, I confessed to the guy who runs that whole operation that I find it so upsetting. He said it happens all day, every day, and that he hates that he can’t do anything about it. He can’t force people to drive the extra 30 feet to drop their cardboard into the recycling bins. (And sometimes it is already broken down.) He can’t ask them to donate that perfectly good sink to a local non-profit organization. He can’t refuse them, and frankly, I’m not sure that chaining myself to trash bins would cultivate much more than traffic and frustration.

Next: What will it take for this situation to change?

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Christy Diane Farr

Christy Diane Farr is a catalyst. If that sounds like something you want more of in your life, visit 'The Greenhouse' at and join the Wildflower Evolution on Facebook.


+ add your own
9:17AM PDT on Apr 21, 2012

Unfortunately some people don't care about the future so long as everythings o.k. for them today

7:16PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Great article, Christy, really wish more people would pay attention and do more to reduce the amount of waste.

3:14PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

You know Christy, I know your pain and I feel it every day in little ways.

Everyone considers me an assH--- and a pain in the ass. Especially when i pack on the guilt
Don't care, don't give a shit.
It comes down to manners and if I don't see them, I call people out on it.
We used to be a mannered society. We watched out for each other not just because it was good for the community; it was polite. Politeness states that we return graciousness with like graciousness.
AT some point in the past 50 yrs., being an individual and being freedom-loving to a point of disrespecting others in our attempts to "be ourselves" (and in my youth, I was guilty) has become a practice of one-ups-manship.
Perhaps Civics and Civil Manners should become as important in our public school curriculum as reading, writing and arithmetic?

10:30AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

It's hard to face that some people are not responsible-- and it's so easy to be when it comes to this. Thanks for the article and message.

3:44AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

My community has an award winning recycling program in place. works!

3:39AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Where I currently live recycling has been made
easier & I encourage every county & city in the
country to adopt this program. We are allowed
to put all our recyclables in one big bin & Waste
Disposal picks them up along w/ the trash twice
a week via curbside. It has made my life much
easier & saved me endless time. More importantly,
because it has simplified things for people, it
encourages them to recycle more items, more often.
Of course things like batteries, old computers, stuff
like that is exempt but hey, how lazy can you be not
to deal with those things separately?

12:24AM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

If you are truly asking for advice, I would advise that you need to get you local newspaper and most definitely, your local municipality involved. Work with them so that the media help you spread the word.

Speak about what you and others are doing in your town - apparently a study was conducted which revealed that this method worked because people didn't want to stand out by not participating with what friends and neighbours regarded as 'the right thing to do'.

Sometimes you can work with a neighbouring town or even the garbage removal company. Try and get everyone on board eg, large stores, and ask them how they can contribute to a greener town.

Unfortunately, you will always find a large section of people who are not community minded and who, even if spoken to nicely, selfishly don't care.... Energise yourself by working with positive people for change and don't concentrate on negative people.

6:30PM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

Sue, it depends on the apartment, in Toronto we recycle cardboard, plastic, everything except waste stuff like batteries, etc, you have to drop that stuff off yourself.

8:44AM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

Here in our little Missouri town with a population of 1012 we have our very own recycle bins thanks to a very enterprising woman. You can take many things there for no cost. On the other hand there is a fee for the local land fill. It doesn't stop the abuse of it, it just pays for recycling there. In fact another enterprising woman, decided to make methane fuel from the waste and is going forward in some very innovative ways. We are a certified organic grass fed beef farm, and are doing our part, and trying daily, hourly to encourage all we can those around us to be more in tune. We have a saying here. Speak with your dollar. If you don't buy it they will stop making it. If enough people speak out changes can and do happen. Never lose faith, in the greater good, and the struggle to attain goodness. We have been so very blessed, and now throw into the mix, my dear friend, already a nurse, and she has just opened a thrift store, with a food pantry, with many opportunities for the community to benefit. We are starting a farmers market there, since it is on a busy road, but just another one of the places, that tend to make others irritated since they have to slow down to 35 on their From? Now we will tempt them, and hopefully, will make more changes, in our slow, purposeful and determined way. May we all try this, may we all succeed, one person at a time, one acre at a time.

7:31AM PDT on Apr 12, 2012

Where I live in Canada we can recycle almost anything. But living in an apartment building complex we cannot recycle cardboard!! Also with all the green space on the grounds we cannot recycle food scraps and these two things really annoy me. We have bins for glass, cans, plastic and paper so we can make quite a difference. But being able to recycle cardboard and food scraps would be much better as there is so much of it. We can recycle broken e-waste for free if we take it to the container, along with batteries, light bulbs and anything that worked on either electricity or batteries. I also use the local free-cycle websites.

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