The New Face of Garbage

Remember that time when we didn’t have blue bins outside next to our trash cans? Remember when we never thought twice about throwing out the newspaper, the plastic bottles, and everything else we were done using?

Then we were given little plastic bins and told to look carefully for the recycling symbols on the bottom of cans and containers.

It took forever to get used to thinking about what we were putting in the trash. It took even longer to start feeling guilty when we did throw something out that could be recycled.

And yet here we are now. We all know what is and isn’t recyclable. We don’t need to look for the symbol. It’s become second nature, much like wearing seat-belts or putting our babies to sleep on their backs.

Last week I drove down the street on trash day and I marveled at what I saw.

Once there were massive trashcans out on the curb. Then there were massive trashcans and small recycling bins. Today the trashcan is taking a backseat to the recycling bin and to the compost bin.

Yes, the compost bin. Because not only has sorting plastics and papers become second nature, in some towns like Los Altos, they’re also teaching residents to compost. Each resident home is given a small container to keep in their kitchen to collect discarded organics  – carrot bits, potato peels, left over food. That container gets emptied in the organics bin where it mingles with garden refuse and becomes compost, picked up weekly by the garbage company.

Down in Santa Clara we’re not quite there yet. Our green bin is just for garden waste, so our trash cans are still pretty big. But at home when I scrape the plates clean I’m already thinking about what I’d be putting in the compost bin. And I’m already feeling guilty that I’m not.

  1. November 26, 2010
  2. December 1, 2010
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