Our apartment complex is very fancy pants, but unfortunately it doesn’t recycle. I kind of figured that out on the day we moved in, when the residential director told us everything we needed to know about everything…except what to do with bottles and cans.
Still, hoping against hope, I visited him in his office a few days after we moved in to ask about recycling. He’s a nice guy, but his response was basically a verbal shrug. He suggested that I could bring recyclables to the local high school. I found this concept frightening. How do you approach a local high school in a town you’ve just moved to, when you hated high school and you’re scared of new people and situations? Do you call the principal? Do you just show up with a case of empty beer bottles? I dithered about this situation for a few days (ok, weeks), unsure what to do.
Meanwhile, we washed and saved our bottles, cans and plastic containers until we had enough to fill a small closet. In fact, a big bag of them was in the front closet. More were in the spare bedroom, and the biggest pile was in the corner in the kitchen. It was starting to make us look less like the fairly neat, sane housekeepers that we are.
When my roommate and I lived together in Hawai’i, we faced a similar problem. Our apartment complex didn’t recycle. Not many places on the island of Oahu appeared to recycle. It seems kind of strange for an island to not bother doing what it could to reduce trash, when there were clearly limited places for it to put its waste. I mean, I suppose there was plenty of room in the delicate ocean ecosystem surrounding the island. I guess I should have thought of that. Anyway, she and I would save empty bottles and cans, stacking them precariously on top of the refrigerator, and when the piles got too high, we would resignedly throw them away with the rest of the trash. It was not a great system, but then again, we were short on apartment space, and we didn’t have a car to drive our empties anywhere if we’d known where to take them, so there was little else we could do with our bottles except collect them pointlessly, out of habit, and eventually sigh and throw them out.
In any event, I had to do some internet sleuthing and call the local town hall, but eventually I found a recycling center nearby. The woman I spoke to advised me that the high school no longer accepted recycling materials. She also said that a number of people from my apartment complex had called her asking for this information, which was encouraging. She suggested that I go back to the residential director and request that they implement a recycling program for residents. Brian did just that (thanks Brian!).
Yesterday, I piled all of the recyclables into the back of my car and drove fifteen minutes away to the center. It was abuzz with activity (and yellowjackets). Cars similarly brimming with bottles and cans were lining up in rows, and the crash and tinkle of comingling materials was deafening.
It was a heartening sight on a Saturday morning. Bottles in North Carolina are not eligible for deposit, and gas prices are at an all time high, but still people were saving up their empties, storing them, and driving them to the recycling center instead of throwing them away, which doubtless would have been much easier. It was a nerdy weekend pick me up.