If you had asked me a few months ago if I was a recycler, I would have proudly puffed out my chest, nodded with assurance and said, “Yes, I am”. Truth is, I was a recycler, but not a RECYCLER. When my Dad would visit from California, I would roll my eyes and huff and puff as he painstakingly washed out every imaginable food container, neatly folded and flattened all types of paper and even sorted out food waste into compost bins in our kitchen. I saw his master plan, but I would get frustrated because I saw it as a waste of time and energy – my energy, his energy. And, honestly, I thought it was pointless. I erroneously assumed that little old, redneck Whatcom County didn’t recycle the way that California recycles and all that this washing and folding were really accomplishing was a cleaner, more compact garbage pile. Funny thing is, it was my stubborn, hillybilly attitude that was blocking the view to what Whatcom County does offer for alternative waste disposal.
But, alas, times have changed. No more eye rolling. More open-mindedness. And, a heck of a lot less garbage. When I say less garbage, I mean trash bag upon trash can less of garbage. It’s incredible. The changes that the Ferry family has made over the past four weeks have reduced our garbage from 5-6 kitchen size bags per week to one. What’s all this add up to? An empty garbage can in the garage and a switch from bi-monthly pickup to monthly.
You might be wondering how I got this information. Well, first thing I did was visit my local garbage and recycle service’s website: www.ssc-inc.com. The website had a whole host of information, but what I didn’t understand or couldn’t find answers to, I was able to get with a quick phone call to their customer service. I have outlined the changes we made below to give you an idea of what we are doing and how it is directly impacting the spot in the landfill earmarked “Ferry Family”.
Step 1: Find out exactly what you can and cannot recycle with your standard recycle service
The standard curbside recycle service that we have picked up every two weeks makes it possible for us to recycle all of our paper products, almost all plastic containers and almost all metal containers. All plastic bottles can be recycled – you can disregard the numbers on the bottom, because it doesn’t matter. And, super cool – aluminum foil can be recycled. Just make sure that it is clean and you can drop that crumpled up wad into the bin with your glass, metal and plastic containers!
Step 2: Find out what specialty recycling is offered at an additional charge and/or drop off service
The location for specialty recycling in Whatcom County is in Bellingham and is open to the public, not just SSC customers. The charge is $5.00 for a 30 gallon garbage bag. You can recycle all hinged plastic containers (like take-out boxes, the containers that lettuce mixes come in or the egg carton I complained about in my first blog post!). You can also recycle plastic film – things like tarps, garbage bags, plastic grocery bags, cling wrap – all that “filmy” plastic stuff.
Step 3: Look into composting or disposing of food and yard waste
We have a compost bin in our backyard and we use it religiously during the warmer months of the year – which means from about June to August! Anybody who has dealt with composting knows that you need to cook the organic material to get compost and for cooking you need adequate heat. Needless to say, the Pacific Northwest is not the ideal location for year round backyard composting. But, SSC has a service that solves this problem. They offer “Food-Plus”. It is a 60 gallon wheeled garbage can that is picked up curbside every two weeks. You can put in all yard waste and food waste. The biggest bonus though is the food soiled paper products you can put in here. Good-bye pizza boxes! Sayonara milk cartons! Hasta la vista used dinner napkins! I know you are probably sitting there google-eyed, mouthing “really?!?!”, but I am serious. All of the things I have listed above can end up being reused, reduced or recycled. And, they can avoid the landfill.
Unfortunately the information I have provided above only pertains to the services of Sanitary Service Company, Inc. which services only the southern and western portion of Whatcom County. But, I do hope that it offers you some good ideas. Call the garbage and recycle company. Or visit their website. I can save you the time if you are a Nooksack Valley customer – their website sucks and their help on the phone is on par with the website. But, whether you live in Whatcom County or not – ask. And, if you are unsure, ask again. The questions and the answers will make a difference. From one skeptic to another – believe me. There is a difference to be made.
Now, onto cloth baby diapers. I’ll keep you posted. They are here, Beckett is wearing them, but we’re still not sure…