Last week, I wrote about my bathroom makeover. In addition to creating a nicer looking bathroom, our makeover created a ton of packaging waste.
Fortunately, I managed to get away with actually throwing away just a few twist ties, some strapping bands, and some painting material — tape and the like.
Here’s what the waste looked like in our living room after we finished unpacking:
(Yeah, it kind of looked blurry in real life too.)
The piles included:
- One huge box entirely filled with block Styrofoam.
- A great big stack of corrugated cardboard from the boxes themselves.
- Several sheets of instructions, etc.
- A variety of small plastic bags that contained screws and other hardware.
- A large shopping bag full of padded foam wrap.
- Several linear yards of plastic shrink roll — the stuff that straps two boxes together for shipping.
Here’s what I did with it:
- The sheets of paper went right into our city recycling bin.
- The plastic bags and plastic sheeting went into our plastic recycling, which I take over to our local grocery store every week.
- I spent 15 minutes, one morning with a box cutter, and cut the corrugated cardboard into pieces that fit into our city recycling bin.
- We delivered the shopping bag full of padded foam wrap to our local pack and ship store for reuse.
That left just the block Styrofoam. In addition to our big box, I had a small bag of block Styrofoam in my office closet. I’ve been saving it from various packages, along with plastic yogurt tubs that are not recyclable in our curbside recycling program.
I decided the time was ripe for a trip to EcoCycle in Boulder. EcoCycle is known as one of the most advanced recycling centers in the United States. In addition to municipal recycling programs in Boulder, they operate a Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM).
That’s the recycling center in the picture at the top. You drive up next to a building, tell them what you have to recycle, and pay any necessary fees. (And only in Boulder is the garbage-station attendant cute, helpful and brainy.) My carload of Styrofoam cost me nothing to recycle. The yogurt tubs go directly into their single-stream recycling program. The only thing I had to pay to recycle was for three bicycle tires that I brought along. Those cost $.50 each, for a grand total of $1.50.
They had an ingenious system for recycling Styrofoam. I had to take my box and bag up the steps of this little platform. Beside the platform, they had strung up some giant plastic bags into which I dumped my Styrofoam.
After that, I drove to the dumpsters along the side and dropped off my materials in the appropriate bins. Then we were free — and is our responsibility and ready to run some other errands while we were in the area.
I wish we had such excellent recycling services in my city. But I am grateful that they at least exist within driving distance. Was it worth it to drive 30 miles to recycle the stuff? Probably, as long as I let it pile up and only go once a year or so. I learned that they also recycle milk and juice cartons and tetra-paks, so I have started a bag in my storage room for those materials.
How about you? How are your recycling services? What do you do when you have difficult-to-recycle materials?