I saw a news blurb last week about Utah having the dubious notoriety of being the fifth worst waste management program in the US (read about it here) That's a fairly impressive claim considering per 2006 census data, Utah numbered 2,550,000 people. The main reason for this is that we have no established recycling process (like New York does). Families can elect to have a supplemental recycling can (at the rate of 40 a month, someone chime in here if it is more or less) which gets picked up bi-weekly: most Utahns, like me, simply toss out everything. Paper, glass, steel, aluminum, old toys, food, etc.
So what? When I toss out my trash, according to the Waste Management billboards on their trucks, it gets incinerated for power plants, or sorted and recycled there. Accoring to another of their billboards, the dumps where the trash is hauled provides wildlife habitat too (I am not even going to go there on that one).
The silly thing to me is that we could be sorting our own garbage into recyclables and non, then tossing it out, and in the long run we'd be more responsible for the environment, and we could reuse some resources. But recycling takes a little effort. And it costs a little more. And in this day of save a buck or two at the expense of leeching toxins into the ground water, what do we do?
May I suggest Government Subsidiaries. If the government will subsidize a TV tuner for when we all go HD in February of '09, why not set something up for recycling? If lobbyists could get that lovely piece of couch potato sponsored legislation through, surely we could be recycling a bit more with a bit of government assistance. It says something when we'll so readily lobby for TV, yet still struggle to figure out how to recycle.
OK I am turning rant mode off now.
My paper recycling is still in it's infancy, facilitated along solely by the recent purchase of a cross-cut paper shredder. I had several years worth of receipts and old bills which were cramming my filing cabinet to the bursting point. Necessity was the mother of involvement in my case, otherwise I'd still be in my "toss it in the trash" ways. I had three garbage bags full of shredded bits, and no place to put them. I felt a bit guilty just tossing them in the old dust bin.
Thankfully, in the parking lot of my local elementary school, resides a paper collection bin. It's owned by Reddy Therm, a local insulation company who employs several hard working gnomes to turn all my old paper into handy useable cellulose insulation. It's like magic!
The great idea of it all is that all my junk mail, all my old bills and shredded credit card receipts are helping to heal and cool someones house. My already used paper still has a useful life ahead of it. That idea just plain made me smile. But perhaps the best part of it all is the idea that the reams of cast off artwork from my two toddlers will be doing the same thing (as I've been adding them to the growing pile). And that draws near to the beatific. Hyrum and Maddy's artwork (albeit a bit shredded and more extreme neo-cubist than intended by the original artists), will live on providing a buffer against the harshness of the elements. And that, albeit a literal take on the arts, still embraces the spirit of the arts. And that's pretty amazing.