When I was a girl scout, camping and learning how to cook things over fire, one of the first lessons we learned was the difference between “trash” and “garbage”. Trash is dry, paper bags, candy wrappers, empty bottles, containers. Garbage is wet, sticky, leftover food, stuff that gets nasty and stinks not too long after it looked really good on your plate, scraps and things like that. Pretty simple really.
In just the last couple of months, we signed on with a new trash service that offers recycling. Finally. Trying to find recycling here in Pueblo has been problematic. When I first moved here, one of the local grocery stores took almost everything–flattened boxes, newspapers, food and beverage cans, glass, even their own grocery bags. I carried my stuff back each week when I went shopping. Then they quit. From time to time recycling bins popped up around town, but were whisked away when people began dumping furniture and all types of things not on the stated list.
The, a few years ago, this place opened in Pueblo West, but didn’t do pick ups at first. We waited. We tried to reduce and resuse as much as possible. I was determined to compost nearly everything. We used shredded junk mail as mulch and compost, too, but there was still too much in our trash can, I felt.
Then we found out that WeRecycle came in to Pueblo and did pick ups. We called and found out we could have them do both recycling AND garbage and it would be less than what we paid with our current carrier. Garbage pick up, however, would be only every other week instead of weekly. We switched but I wondered about that. Here’s where it gets interesting.
For the recycling, the company gives us a large, Tyvek bag. Tyvek is an indestructable substance that is used to make envelopes and to line new house construction before putting on the stucco, siding, or what have you. If you ever see new homes being built and the look like they’re covered in white paper, that’s Tyvek.
This place takes everything but styrofoam and grocery store bags. You don’t have to separate it, they hire people to do that. It does need to be rinsed clean. So, veggie cans, bottles, carryout containers, frozen food bags, Starbuck’s cups (that aren’t being recycled as plant starters), etc. They take pretty much everything. Oh, and here’s the great part–all that shredded junk mail? They take that separately and pass it on to local animal shelters to use as bedding. How cool is that?? I love that idea.
We’ve been with them now for a couple of months. What I’m finding is, we really don’t have much garbage. I’m learning how to cook for two so we either don’t have leftovers or I make enough to freeze immediately for later. Veggie scraps get composted, as well as leftovers that don’t contain meat. We don’t drink soda anymore so there’s fewer cans. G has cut WAY back on beer because of the reflux. So, the every other week pick up is no problem. We’ve barely had a half-full GARBAGE bag since we started this.
But the TRASH–oh, dear Lord, are we trashy people! And you can’t help it. Everything is boxed, wrapped, containered to death. A while back, I bought some mesh bags for produce when I grocery shop. I really like them. I try not to put a lot of my produce in bags–avocados, lemons, a head of cabbage, etc. But six apples, yes, I need a bag for those. Then there’s crackers, cheese, anything frozen, oatmeal, grits, cans or plastic containers or jars of olives. Yogurt containters. And Starbuck’s cups. Thank goodness we can use them to start seeds in. That huge Tyvek bag is full to overflowing every Monday. Good grief! And I would venture to say that we are fairly low on the consumer level. There are only two of us. Our junk mail has dwindled considerably as we’ve opted out of nearly everything coming by paper.