I’ve been a radical recycler since the 1980s, when I had to drive long miles to take boxes of nine different categories of recyclables to different locations in Tucson for recycling. When neighbors wanted to add their recyclables to my boxes, I let them, then asked the city to let our block be the subject of a test project, which they did, and of course, like every major city in the nation, eventually a recycling program was offered for everyone.
So it was a natural that I would enjoy filling out the information to nominate myself for a recycling recognition (the most common way to nominate). Mostly, I’m glad we have a Green Chamber active in our small town and our state encouraging this sort of awareness. More info here.
Throwing things in a box to take to the curb and send “away” (to sometimes dubious efforts at recycling) is okay, but it’s very important, first, to refuse, reduce, and reuse.
The most fun is recycling onsite of with neighbors: kitchen waste, newspaper, brown bags, moth-eaten wool blankets and other wool or natural-fiber items, human and cat hair, and garden debris can all become compost for the garden. Larger pieces of wood from the yard can become trellises, hanging shade, tomato stakes, cat deterrents, decorations, and more. Toilet paper tubes can be stood up in a waterproof container and then become plant start holders than can go straight into the earth in spring.
We just have to create the space for collecting and storing things – not always easy – but once we’re underway, it’s easy and satisfying.
Building material bits and pieces (broken bricks, hardware cloth scraps, etc) went into this banco (bench by the fireplace, below) and wall sculpture, which are both made of adobe and constitute part of the “thermal mass” inside our retrofitted passive solar house which make it function properly.
Yes, I saved all those scraps – because I studied this art form in 2006 and knew I would be building something like these one day.
Call me radical, or obsessed. That’s okay. A healthy environment seems worthy of obsession. (And it saved money when I didn’t have to buy as many materials later.) Just have to intend to do it, then create the space to store it.