Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Going Zero Waste

Garbage. I'm going to be talking about this a lot, so bear with me. When I was living in Seattle we could seemingly recycle and compost nearly everything. Paper, plastic, glass, yard waste, food waste, newspaper, tin, aluminum. You name it, we recycled it - our garbage pickup can for years was the tiny little can.

Just the jugs, ma'am
Since moving to Kittitas County, I've had a major culture shock. For starters, there's no curbside recycling pickup which, in many ways, is actually a good thing because you are forced to really analyze what you are recycling since you have to sort it before it goes into the one of the many large containers.

You are less likely to indulge in "aspirational recycling" where you throw everything that looks kinda recyclable into the bin and hope it gets handled downstream. Usually, what that means is that any contaminated recycling ends up contaminating the batch and the whole thing goes in the landfill. Neat, huh? I'm super guilty of aspirational recycling, so I'm not going to pretend otherwise.

Additionally, since your recycling is being stored and transported by you, you are going to make damn sure it is clean. No, limp-wristed, half-asseded swirling out of the containers before tossing it in the bin. That tuna can is gonna be clean before it goes in my trunk. Unclean recyclables is one of the many reasons that municipal recycling is being cut down at the knees - there's no foreign market for our dirty crap.

On the other hand, not having curbside recycling makes it super tempting to just throw everything in the trash. I am in no way tempted to do this - I have nervous fits throwing out recyclables. Which leads me to The Consumer's Dilemma (channeling Michael Pollan here). Kittitas County has an abysmal recycling program. The only things we can recycle here are:

  • cardboard
  • plastic pop bottles and plastic milk jugs
  • tin cans
  • aluminum cans
  • newspaper, magazines
My favorite place to visit
That's right - no glass, no paper, no plastic (except for the soda bottles and jugs). And don't get me started on food waste. Which means I really have to rethink what I'm buying, bringing into the house and what I can potentially reuse. Glass recycling just ended at the beginning of October and it pains me to throw out bottles. Same thing with plastic.

So, I'm going to be concentrating over the next few months on alternatives to throwing things in the waste stream, including composting. And, of course, I'll be sharing with you all what I'm doing for alternatives, what works, what doesn't and what totally sucks. Plus, peppering everything with information on the state of recycling in the U.S., just for your edification.


Laurie Graves said...

Keep us posted! It's quite a dilemma for all of us, rural or urban.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Oh, I will, @Laurie! I know that even Seattle is cracking down on some of the recycling they no longer accept so you are correct. It's not just a rural issue, it's hitting urban areas hard as well.

Delora said...

I live in one of the largest counties on the east coast, and the county recycling program officially stopped taking any glass last month (after finally admitting most of it had been going straight to the landfill for years). Instead, they're now accepting glass in separate bins and crushing it to use in construction projects (ie, an adjunct in concrete instead of sand, and this pipe bedding: )

As you work with your new county to improve their offerings (because I know you will!), this might be something worth suggesting since it could actually save some money in the long run.

Crunchy Chicken said...

@Delora - That's awesome! It's always good to see how other counties are coming up with new solutions. Thanks for sharing!