Recycling Nirvana?


It’s finally here!

My giddiness has only been diminished by the fact that I still have to wait until April 1st to use it!

Last year I thought nothing could top the early Christmas present I received when my township announced that it would finally extend its plastics collection to include #1 through #7.

Then this past November we were informed that our entire recycling program would become fully automated, allowing each resident to become new owners of those glorious, co-mingled, rolling recycling carts we had envied in surrounding neighborhoods for years!

Finally! No more lugging multiple small, dripping, overflowing, back-breaking bins to the curb. I now have a system allowing ease, peace-of-mind, and increased efficiency as our family continues to improve its recycling efforts.

I chose the largest of the three options:  the 95-galloner. Oh, it’s such a beautiful sight! Being a family that already recycles twice as much material as we trash, I figured this would only encourage us to not only “up” our skills, but also gather more recyclables from places like work and school to bring home and properly dispose of.

Additionally, “Big Blue” (as we are affectionately calling it) can now accrue its load over multiple weeks and be put out bi- or tri-weekly, allowing for more streamlining of the pick-up process, thus reducing carbon monoxide emissions from the truck.

All is right with the world!


As the “buzz” on social media began, I listened to friends and neighbors as they shared their opinions of the new and old systems. What about the recycling workers and their jobs? Is this more or less expensive for taxpayers? Does co-mingling even make sense? Doesn’t recycling only go to the trash dump anyway?

Hmmm… I’ve never been one to sit amongst rumor for too long, so I tracked down our township public works manager to ask questions.

Most things were easily answered: All worker jobs were retained. The $1 million price tag should be recouped in less than 6 years through operating cost reduction, grants, and recycling revenue increases.

Other questions, however, were still unsettling: Go ahead—just throw everything in, including plastic caps, milk/OJ cartons, and loose paper. (But what about contamination, making the recyclables un-usable?) The recycling facility finds a use for everything. (Meaning it just sends excessive amounts of materials to China?) Do these solutions not completely defeat the purpose?

I have created some instant responses to these additional questions. First, I’m visiting that recycling plant. I want to see first-hand where and how my recyclables are being processed!

Second, my commitment to simple REDUCTION is stronger than ever! Our family has been brainstorming ways to shop more eco-friendly and bring home the least amount of packaging possible.

Moral of the story: My giddiness is replaced with hope and “To be continued…”


Meet Christa Sywulak-Herr
Christa is a green mom raising two boys with her husband in the suburbs of Philadelphia. A teacher by trade and an activist by heart, she volunteers her time to bettering the local community by promoting education, sustainability, and health and wellness. Christa enjoys nature hikes with her family, quality time with friends, shopping for treasures at the thrift shop, and cooking delicious meals from locally grown ingredients. A self-proclaimed “Reduce-Reuse-Recycler” since she was a child, Christa is eager to share all the eco-friendly tips she’s learned over the years and explore green living with readers.

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