Ruining Recycling for the Rest of Us

There’s a right and wrong way to live

By Sam Bracken

Shame on us. You know, my wife and I started composting last summer, and it’s so easy. I grabbed a few old pallets from a local department store, nailed them into a box and voila, we’re composting. And until then, I never realized how much volume of compostable material went into our trashcan. I’m talking five gallons or more per week, all of it avoiding a sorry fate at the landfill. And now, I look into my trashcan and see pop cans, plastic milk jugs and salad containers. One article stated the reason China stopped accepting our recycling was due to contamination – unsorted material getting dumped into the bins; people who don’t care enough often ruin something for the rest. It’s like the tragedy of the commons. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen whole trash bags full of beer cans in a dumpster, not 50 yards away from the recycling bin, or a deer carcass, or a bicycle, or that same bag of beer cans dumped in the paper recycling. Come on folks, it doesn’t take a college degree to recycle properly, or to know what kind of junk doesn’t belong in the landfills. Sure, it’s a pain in the butt. Sure, it takes up two hours every other Saturday morning to round up the household bins, sort the recycling, and drive to your local drop-off site. And I’m not some kind of green bean environmentalist either – it’s just that there’s a right and wrong way to live, and I try to be right. And shame on us for ruining a good thing.

Sam Bracken
Columbia Falls

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