What Comes Around Goes Around

Recycled Scallions & Photo Courtesy of Eating Well

Some years ago we hosted high school seniors from our church for dessert and hanging out. I was eight months pregnant at the time, which meant I wasn't firing on all mental cylinders, but two memories stand out in my mind:

1. One girl asked me, "When are you due?" The girl next to her hissed, "Shhh!!!" and jabbed her in the ribs. "What?" I asked, mystified. The jabber looked sheepish. "Well, I heard you weren't pregnant--you just--" My mouth fell open. "You thought I just looked like this???" ("This" meaning my enormous stomach that stuck out as far as Cle Elum and was hard as a basketball, not to mention my swollen face and legs.) I waved the spatula around,with which I'd been dishing out brownies. "You tell everyone that I'm eight months pregnant! Got it? Tell everyone." Don't mess with the crazy lady with the spatula.

2. On the plus side, another girl took a real shine to me because she discovered I was a rabid recycler, like the gal in the insurance ad. It turns out she had drawn the mockery of all her friends on their Senior Trip to Disneyland because, unable to bear the level of waste and resource-carnage, she walked all over the park trailing a giant trash bag of recyclables. Across the generational divide, we found each other.

Seriously. In our house we re-use big yogurt containers until there's no more room on the outside to write what's in them. Ice cream containers get rinsed and recycled. Peanut butter jars go through the dishwasher so they're clean enough to store kids' figurines. Net produce bags become costume fascinators. To their shame and embarrassment, the kids' scratch paper is left over from my husband printing out his sermons. Which means, when they make (not buy) birthday cards for their friends, their friends always end up unfolding the card to ask what are all the weird things printed on the back. The eight-year-old even confessed that she staples her cards prophylactically, to avoid such awkwardness.

As a result, I was thrilled to see this Peninsula Press article on what percentage of the items thrown in the recycling actually get recycled. It's high! Especially for a place like Bellevue, which practices "single-stream" recycling, meaning, everything gets thrown in one bin and sorted out later. According to the article, single-stream systems boast a recovery rate of 77%. I also believe communities with single-stream recycling probably collect a higher volume of recyclables in the first place. How many people, confronted with the multiple bins and the sorting and the getting them all to the curb, decide not to bother in the first place?

A couple tips to make sure your recycling efforts pay off:

  • Greasy or food-contaminated paper belongs in the Yard Waste. Paper that gets some of that on it cannot be recovered.
  • When recycling glass, avoid breaking it. Broken glass contamination makes it harder to process other materials and is hard on the machinery. Nor can broken glass be easily sorted, collected, and made into new bottles.
  • When in doubt about a plastic container, recycle it. I do know they don't favor the black, plastic pots you get plants in.
  • Funky items like electronics, scrap wood, batteries, toilets, and much, much more can be recycled on May 7 at the Recycling Collection Day. Easy peasy.

And lastly, since I am supposed to be blogging about food, here's a tip I can't wait to try for growing your own scallions out of used ones! Bundle the white stems, soak for a week in a glass of water until they sprout, and then re-plant them. Who knew?

Happy Recycling. I'm off to do my bit by digging in the fridge for leftovers..