How Far Do You Go to Recycle?
Back in February, I wrote about things we do around our house to be more eco-friendly. One of those things is recycling glass, metal, paper, and plastic on a daily basis. Separating recyclable materials from your trash and recycling them is a fairly simple task when your township picks up the recycle. But what if it doesn't? While researching for that post, I discovered that we could in fact recycle MORE than what we had previously been saving when it came to plastic (our township only recycles #1 & #2 plastic), if I just brought it a few towns over from us. So, from that point forward, instead of throwing away all our yogurt containers, fruit & veggie clamshells, and old sippy cups, I started cleaning & setting them aside, with the rest of our recycle.
Collingswood, New Jersey collects mixed plastics - #3 through #7 and is about 15 miles away. While not that far, mileage-wise, it’s not particularly conveniently located to us, and unfortunately, not on the way to anything we typically visit, so we thought the best plan of action was to save up our commingled plastic recycle for as long as we could stand it, then bring it over as one big lot.
The bags were piling up, it was a dreary day, so… what better day to pack up the car & go for a drive? We loaded up the six garbage bags we’d saved up of number 3 – 7 plastic over the last seven months into the back of my minivan. It started to rain on our drive down there. Once we arrived, we discovered the recycle drop off was right by a bicycle recycle station – so cool! You can drop off your bike or bike parts & take what you need.
Of course, being pouring rain & windy by the time we arrived, there was no one around, and so the kids only got to observe the bike parts and recycle bins through our minivan windows. I managed to fill up FIVE CANS worth of recycle – did I mention it was raining? – and snapped a few photographs before hopping back in the car. Unfortunately due to the weather, we didn’t linger (though the town looks like it has an interesting walk-able downtown area, as well as a Farmer’s Market on Saturdays), and got back on the road home (the rainy, traffic-y, carseat screamy, ride home).
All told, we spent nearly an hour on the road (approx 25 minutes each way) to recycle 5 cans of plastic. While I certainly felt good inside – both while saving up the recycle all year, teaching the kids about recycling, keeping plastic out of the landfills, and loading up those empty cans with our stashed recycle – I’m not sure, with the time spent on the road (much of it in traffic – so a lot of engine idling), how worthwhile it was in the long run. What I mean is, was my carbon footprint (certainly reduced by recycling 5 cans of plastic), then increased by driving 30 miles to recycle it?
At this point, I think we’ll keep doing what we’re doing because I can’t imagine going back to throwing all that plastic in the landfill! I sure wish there was a more environmentally-friendly way to get all the plastic from my house to the recycling station though. Next time, we’ll try to combine the trip with another outing – perhaps the Saturday Farmer’s Market!
So… do you recycle? How far would you/do you go to do it?