Recycling seems to be the one green activity almost everyone gets: when I tell people what I do, they almost always mention that they recycle (unless, of course, they call me a liberal hippie treehugger). We can argue about the importance of recycling compared to other activities (and, yes, it’s definitely better to reduce and reuse first), but it’s a good thing that so many people are doing something… right?
It is… if they’re really doing it. But according to Siemens’ annual Green City Index, a lot of people are fibbing to me: only 3% of our waste gets recycled. On the upside, we’re doing better than Detroit (how’s that for a marketing slogan: “We’re better than Detroit!”) Keep in mind that this is after the installation of all of those recycling dumpsters in the city (one of which is directly behind my garage – makes getting out tricky, but recycling really convenient). So, what’s a city got to do to get residents to recycle?
According to waste and recycling company Republic Services, the answer comes down to “just do it“: “If you don’t recycle, start; if you already do, recycle more.” And given the accessibility of recycling in St. Louis (both in terms of drop-off points and materials accepted), it really is just a matter of remembering to do it. Republic notes
“We believe that if residents simply add a designated recycling bin in their kitchen — the place where most people decide whether to recycle an item or throw it away — that the amount of material people would recycle would increase by at least 50 percent…”
I’d suggest on top of that to add bins (small ones) in the bathrooms, laundry area, and any other part of your home that regularly generates waste – if a recycling bin isn’t right there, you’ll probably throw items in the trash can that is.
Despite our wasteful ways here in the Lou’, Republic’s optimistic about our ability to become better recyclers: they’re going to invest $19 million in upgrades to their recycling centers in Hazelwood and Bella Villa so they can separate and process even more material. It’s up to us to make sure that investment pays off.
So, what do you do to help you remember to recycle? Share your ideas below in the comments.