Monday, November 29, 2021

Recycling, Not to be Confused with Bicycling

Know this sign - It means Re-duce, Re-use, Re-cycle.

Know this sign – It means Re-duce, Re-use, Re-cycle.

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Jory Westberry

Let’s admit that we all have pet peeves; some of mine are irksome and some bring out downright ire.

Take, for example, on one of my trips to the mainland on a recycling day, I noted that about 90% of the residents have their recycling carts out. That’s not an official number, but the plethora of carts signals that our neighbors are trying to be conscientious citizens by caring for our Earth. Kudos to you!

And as I drive, BAM, my elation takes a dip because there’s one of my pet peeves directly in my path; a recycling cart with a bicycle sticking out of it with no garbage cart in sight. I could infer that there’s probably more trash in the recycling cart besides the bicycle.

Why, you may ask, does that tip my frustration scale?

Placing that non-recyclable object(s) in the recycling cart negates all the other properly discarded items that everyone else put in their carts, not because of my perception, but because of the “contamination” to the entire recycling truck, according to the recycling personnel in Collier County.

If more than 10% of the recyclables are contaminated by garbage, the collection will go to the landfill instead, using more land and resources.

It’s true. You and your best intentions can be ruined by one person on your street who “contaminates” the recycling truck by discarding yard waste, regular garbage, lumber, garden hoses, diapers, kitchenware, electronics and items that should be in trash/garbage carts or residential yard waste containers. Frankly, after the diligence and sorting that goes on to separate the items, I’m surprised that more people aren’t upset by the negligence. Maybe because they aren’t aware?

So, let’s make lemonade out of those lemons with some pertinent information.

Re-duce, Re-use, Re-cycle

The first two R’s are critical to lessening the impact on our landfill.


These numbers are shocking.

Americans alone throw away over 50 billion food and drink cans, 27 billion glass bottles and jars, and 65 million plastic and metal jar and can covers every year. 85% of it goes to a landfill. The amount of trash we throw away can be reduced by reducing consumption and by re-using materials as long as possible. The last resort, after reduction and re-use, is to recycle the materials (CollierGov.Net/Recycles).

Recycling Items (DO NOT place in plastic bags) are:

All paper products, including newspapers, paper bags, office paper, junk mail, phone books, catalogs, magazines, cereal/food boxes, juice/milk cartons, and cardboard (flattened to fit). All plastics labeled #1 through #7; glass bottles/jars, and cans made of steel, tin, or aluminum. You may also include plastic grocery bags, shredded paper, and egg cartons marked with the chasing arrows recycling symbol.

Trash/Garbage Items (YES, put this in sturdy Plastic Bags) are:

Diapers (big surprise there!), soiled paper products including paper towels and tissue, food scraps, Styrofoam packaging, aluminum foil, kitchenware, clothes hangers, hoses, dog food/cat food/ potato chip bags and any packaging contaminated with food or other nasty substances.

Residential Yard Waste (No plastic bags, only paper, or containers purchased by resident) includes:

Prunings and cuttings, lawn clippings, leaves, palm branches, tree trimming and small branches. Yard waste is limited to 10 bags, bundles, or containers per week not heavier than 50 lbs. when filled.

Another Interesting Fact from CollierGov.Net/Recycles: When everyone recycles, less landfill space is used, more resources are saved, lower disposal costs are realized and the environment is protected. More recycling by residents in Collier County will allow for continuance of one of the lowest-in-the-state collection assessments.

And one more way to make a difference? Ride your bicycle, it saves gas and keeps you fit!

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!

How Can You Make a Difference?

  • Carry in cloth or other sturdy bags for your groceries
  • Buy refillable water bottles, 1 per family member and forget the disposables
  • Turning off lights conserves light bulbs and energy costs
  • Buy in bulk to decrease the use of many cans, bottles, cartons
  • Try composting, it’s free garden fertilizer
  • Donate to thrift stores so products can be Reused
  • Tell others how to keep the recycled materials out of the land fill by no contamination

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