Earth Day: Recycling Challenge

2 Apr

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For Earth Day Month, Robin and I both decided that we’d share one of our greatest green challenges and tackle it this April.  We’re going to share our successes and failures with you.  If you’d like, tell us something that challenges you and keep us updated on your progress (if you have a blog, send us a link!).  Think of it as a New Year’s Resolution for the earth.

I’m going to be straight with you and admit I’m super embarrassed about my challenge.  I consider myself moderately green.  I know I can do better, but among many of my friends, I’m considered the one you go to for eco-information.  I’m really good at bringing reuseable bags, shopping locally, being careful about packaging and generally reusing and repurposing stuff.  One of the things I’m not so good at is the cardinal rule of the green movement:


That’s right.  Recycling.

I know it’s like the easiest thing in the world to do.  I know that it’s number one on all the “things to do to be green!” lists.  I know that it’s terrible to just throw stuff away when it can be used again.  I know!  Still, I’d rather turn a tin can into a tea light then throw that same tin can in a bin to be recycled.

Since I moved away from home, I’ve never really lived in a place that made recycling simple.  None of my apartments had recycling programs – not even the shiny new condo I lived in for two years.  I actually chose the apartment I lived in now based partially (ok, very partially) on the recycling center next door.   I can seriously walk to the edge of my complex and see the recycling bins.  I probably walk by it at least twice a week.  I’ve never actually gone.

When I first moved to California, I used to take some of my recycling to the large recycling center down the street (disclosure: this center is now on my way home from work).  I stopped going there because the people intimidated me.  I didn’t really care if I got money, but most of the people there did, so it had this weird back-alley transaction feel to me.  I kind of picture it like the docks in Sweeney Todd (disclosure: it’s nothing like the docks in Sweeney Todd).  I eventually stopped going.

I know these are bad reasons.  If I had to choose the thing that I’m trading being green for, it would be time and comfort.  It won’t take much time, but it’s just enough to deter me.  Comfort is probably the more prominent challenge for me.  I’m cool with doing all sorts of adventurous things, but now and then I get a little anxious about random stuff.  Going to the recycling center makes me nervous.  I think it’s because it’s something I believe the person I want to be would not find intimidating.  That person knows all the recycling centers in town.  She probably takes the money she gets for trading in bottles and donates it to Greenpeace, no, better yet NatureBridge.  I guess when I feel that way, it’s because I have to face the fact that I’m not who I want to be in that situation.

Luckily, I can change that, and that is my challenge for April 2013.  My first step is to see how much trash I would save if I were recycling, so for the first two weeks I’ll separate my trash from my recycling and take some photos of the difference.  I’m also going to do some research into recycling and share that with you.  At the end of the month I’ll tell you about my experiences and my strategies for staying on top of this.

Do you have any suggestions to help me out? I’d love to hear them!

~ April


2 Responses to “Earth Day: Recycling Challenge”


  1. Earth Day: Recycling Wrap Up | Without a Map - April 30, 2013

    […] can call me a procrastinator because, well, I am.  While I’ve dutifully been recycling this month, I completely avoided going to the actual recycling center until about 9 AM this morning.  I […]

  2. Earth Day: All In One Place | Without a Map - August 27, 2014

    […] 1, Earth Day: For Every Lifestyle April 2, Earth Day: Recycling Challenge April 3, Earth Day: One for the Money April 4, Earth Day: Sustainability and You April 5, Shorter […]

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