Friday, February 01, 2008

Seeing Red about Being Green

I just spent a half hour trying to figure out how to recycle my newspaper. I hate that I throw away 4 newspapers a week. I suppose the easiest and greenest thing to do would be to cancel my subscription and read online only, but I really like having the paper copy, I like supporting the institution of newspapers, and after a week of school I'm usually sick of looking at a computer screen.

So I keep getting the paper, Thurs - Sun, and at the end of every weekend I have a pile anywhere from 4-8 inches thick (depending how giant the Sunday paper is). I figured, I live in California, a supposedly progressive state. I live in Pasadena, a beautiful city. Surely they want me not to throw this recyclable material in the trash bin. So I looked - I looked on our city website, I googled, I read through a bunch of sites listing dozens of places to recycle cans and bottles.

I finally found the closest place that recycles newspaper (thanks to South Pas's website), which is in Monrovia, which is a few towns down the freeway. Not exactly a place a person like me (sans car) can get to easily. I might be able to make a trip once a month, say, with a big pile of paper. But then, where do I keep a big pile of paper? Probably due to the pregnancy hormones, I sat here and cried when I realized that I can't keep a pile of newspaper in my 400 square foot apartment because there is absolutely literally nowhere except the middle of the living room floor, and that needs to be reserved for the baby's crib.

(just kidding - the kid gets no crib. Duh! Like we have room for that kind of luxury)

So I'm really sad but I guess I'm forced to keep throwing away. Ugh, I hate that. Especially after all my preaching about being green - I'm such a freaking hypocrite. But I tried I really did.

If I were a residential person (instead of "commercial" which my apt building is considered), I'd have a nice bin for my recyclables including the newspaper. But the city just wants commercial customers to "contact your waste management" people and pay whatever "reasonable fee" they require to provide recycling. At least they are required to provide it by law. But I can't decide for my apt mgmt that they should pay these fees. I know they won't - so far the approach to recycling has been to put out a trash can which we all fill with bottles and cans and the homeless come pick it up. Which works out fine for everybody involved, but it's no guarantee of where that stuff is winding up. And I don't think they'll take the newspaper and cardboard (I think the manager would throw it in the trash anyway, like he's done with other items I've tried to recycle and, oh yeah, some of my personal possessions as well). None of the local supermarket recycling places take newspaper, which seems completely nuts. And so the homeless won't pick it up b/c they won't get anything for it (unless they can get to Monrovia), and I don't blame them.

I guess probably my best choice would be to talk a resident with a bin into taking my newspaper, but I don't feel like I know anybody with a home well enough to ask such a favor. I think it actually would benefit them (I believe they pay less in trash fees the more they recycle), but I don't know how to hook up with anybody, and they'd have to live close enough that I could walk the pile to them every week. Yet another reason I'm dying to have a house. I bet somebody from our old church would have done it, but sadly, those days are gone, we're no longer local churchgoers. I wonder if I could haul it over to Fuller and put it somewhere - they have paper recycling bins (mixed with cans, bottles, etc. - I wish they would have separate bins), but I don't know if they want my newspaper or not.

It's so frustrating to try to be green sometimes. The system still really works against you. At least I'm finding lots of nice organic/sustainable stuff to put the baby in. I'll try to get it gifted to me, buy what I need to, and then hopefully a majority of what baby encounters will be greenified. And then hopefully we'll move to Berkeley and they'll be more proactive about such things.


Josephine- said...

As a gardener could I suggest that if you have friends who garden newspaper makes WONDERFUL weed block under a layer of mulch and does all sorts of great things for the soil (keeps it cool and moist to encourage earth worms.

I go through huge numbers of newspaper every spring when I mulch the beds. I don't know a single gardener who would ever turn down newspaper donations!

Holly Hight said...

Hey - There is a recycling center at CalTech. It's probably a long walk from Fuller, but it's located on Del Mar and Wilson. I haul my recyclables over there about every 2 weeks.

Stasi said...

I noticed that my neighbors have the city's recycling bins and they put them out on Saturday mornings (or at least this past Saturday, they were out). I didn't figure they'd mind me throwing my paper in there, since they actually get their trash fees reduced by having more recycling in the bin. Everybody wins!