Tag Archives: Recycling

Recycling … yeah, it feels more like ‘home’

I have just returned home to North Texas after visiting what is arguably the recycling capital of the known universe … the Pacific Northwest.

I stayed three nights with my sis and her husband just north of Vancouver, Wash., but was able to travel during the day across the river to Portland where I visited with friends.

So, what’s the point here? Everywhere I went in Washington and then in Oregon I found evidence of that region’s environmental awareness. I found recycling bins next to trash bins. You put your cans and plastic bottles into the bins full of such material; you tossed the trash into the other bin.

I stopped to purchase something at a grocery store in North Portland, where — I understand — they no longer send groceries home with you in plastic bags. Oh, no. Now they “sell” you paper bags at a nickel apiece if you put your goods into them; in that moment, I chose not to carry my two small items out of the store with no bag.

Furthermore, I am proud these days to be living in a Collin County community, Princeton, where we recycle our household material in addition to sending trash off to the dump.

It makes me proud because, to be blunt and candid, I was quite unproud of Amarillo, where we lived for 23 years before moving to Princeton, which didn’t encourage its residents to recycle certain products. It sends everything to the dump. That’s not good, folks.

So, I have returned home after another brief visit to the region of my birth. I am proud to be a son of the Northwest, of Portland. Why? Because of that region’s enhanced environmental awareness. I now am proud to be living in a place that is exhibiting a growing environmental awareness.

It’s strange that my new home is feeling more like my old home.

Learning more about recycling’s value

I have been working on a story for KETR.org, the website for KETR-FM’s public radio station at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

I will not scoop myself on the story I’ve just completed, but I do want to say I have learned a good bit about the value of recycling.

My wife and I live in Princeton, a Collin County community that has curbside recycling. The city signed a contract early in 2019 with Community Waste Disposal, which picks up trash each week and also collects recyclable material every other week.

My story for KETR.org will discuss the virtues of recycling in the communities that allow residents to take part. My wife and I have embraced the recycling idea fully, with both arms, with utmost enthusiasm.

We’ve lived in communities that allowed us to send recyclable materials, in Beaumont and in Oregon, to places where they are re-used with considerably less consumption of finite energy sources. We have known all along about the value that recycling brings, the way it helps preserve natural resources. Yes, it helps save the planet … the only planet we know of that is suitable for human habitation.

I am looking forward to seeing my next KETR.org story published. I hope it resonates with those who see it. The radio station reaches into many Northeast Texas communities that do not allow residents to take part in curbside recycling.

My hope is that my story will generate enough interest in those communities to spur them into joining the recycling club.

Recycling easily becomes a way of life. Trust me on that. It has for my wife and me.

Recycling to become a way of life . . . again

I am happy to announce that my wife and I are going to reside in a community that recycles.

Big deal? Yeah. It is. Princeton, Texas, is like many North Texas communities that place a premium on lessening the amount of trash we toss into landfills. Very soon, we’re going to move into our house. We’ll be returning very soon to the already-huge fraternity of Americans who receive opportunities to preserve our beloved Planet Earth.

We’ll be putting our recyclable items into bins; trucks will pick them up, empty them into bins in front of our home and take the contents to places where they’ll be repurposed, recycled and reused.

We lived for 23 years in Amarillo, a wonderful city that is generally well-run, well-administered and provides the services we all expect to get when we pay our property taxes. It doesn’t allow for “curbside” recycling. The city used to place Dumpsters at locations around town where residents could take items to be recycled. The city gave up on that effort a few years ago because too many residents were throwing non-recyclable material into the bins marked clearly for “recyclable” items.

Amarillo, therefore, is a throwaway community.

Princeton, I am happy to say, allows residents to set aside materials destined for recycling centers. We’ll recycle paper, plastic, glass and aluminum. Cool, yes! You bet it is!

This is an important thing for all of us. My wife and I are fairly dedicated recyclers. We understand the value of reusing material instead of just tossing it into a landfill where it gets buried forever.

I realize this isn’t a huge groundbreaking effort. It’s not a new concept. Recycling has been part of many Americans’ life for longer than any of us can remember. However, for too long I have felt left out of that lifestyle.

I grew up in Oregon, a state that has blazed the environmental awareness trail. It introduced the “bottle bill,” a law that pays deposits for returned glass bottles. Recycling has been a way of life there for decades. There once was a huge debate in the city where I used to work over whether to build a “resource recovery” center, which would recycle household trash into steam energy.

I’m just glad to get back into the recycling game in Princeton, Texas.

City Council candidates? Recycling … make it a priority

I have some wishes for the Amarillo City Council candidates to ponder as they campaign across the city in search of votes … and I likely will reveal some of them in this blog during the course of the campaign.

Here’s one that I think needs City Hall’s attention: recycling.

The idea of reusing our products seems to be on no one’s radar. Plastic jugs, bottles and cans, newsprint? Pfftt! Just toss it into the trash can, let the big ol’ trucks pick ’em and haul it all of to the dump.

The city used to place Dumpsters at locations around town. You could toss newsprint — such as old newspapers — into them. The Dumpsters lasted some time, then the city yanked them away. Why? Too many residents were just tossing run-of-the-mill garbage into these recycling bins. It created a headache for solid waste disposal crews, so the city said “to hell with it” and surrendered. It gave up.

I haven’t heard much debate of any kind about the City Council campaign, at least not yet. I hope to hear from some of the candidates for council member and for mayor to discuss the issue of recycling.

I would love to hear how the city could institute a curbside recycling program for residents. This discussion just doesn’t resonate with anyone, it seems.

My wife and I came here from Beaumont, a city of about 120,000 residents near the Gulf Coast. Beaumont isn’t known as an environmentally conscious community. Yet for years it ran a curbside recycling program where residents could fill bins with plastic products, glassware and newsprint; we would put the bins along the street in front of our homes and recyclers would pick them to, um, recycle them.

My understanding is that the program lost some of its steam after we left.

All five City Council seats are up for election on May 6. Is there any notion out there among one or more of the candidates about whether there’s any possibility of establishing a recycling mindset in our fair city?

Houston leads way … in recycling

Recycling hasn’t yet reached way-of-life status in Texas.

Too bad. It should, given all the material we waste every hour each day. It costs lots of money to make containers from scratch; it costs a lot of trees to make all that paper that ends up in the trash bin.

Enter, Texas’s largest city, Houston, which is considering a plan to increase dramatically its recycling program.

Houston, we may have a solution.

http://www.texastribune.org/2014/03/21/houstons-bold-controversial-recycling-plan/

Houston might start doing away with the program that requires residents and business owners to separate their recyclable material. The idea is to just toss all the recyclable stuff into a single bin and let the city pick it up and sort it out. The plan is going to cost millions of dollars to implement, according to the Texas Tribune. It also carries some risk to the employees hired to sort the material, some of which might contain hazardous material, such as chemical-based liquids.

Houston was awarded a $1 million grant from a foundation created by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That was the prize for the city’s bold new recycling plan. Some environmentalists are concerned, according to the Tribune, that a non-sorting program might discourage residents from considering what they’re tossing aside.

Houston’s population of more than 2.2 million residents hasn’t yet gotten the recycling bug. Only a small percentage of residents recycle there. The idea under consideration is intended to boost that number significantly. Austin — one of the few hotbeds of environmental awareness in Texas — only registers a 24 percent recycling rate among its 800,000 residents, the Tribune reports.

What about Amarillo? Pardon me for laughing, but we aren’t in the game. The city used to have Dumpsters stationed around town for folks to toss paper. The city gave up on that program because officials had grown tired of people tossing non-recyclable trash into the containers. It wasn’t worth their time or trouble to maintain the program. So, the Dumpsters were removed.

Beaumont, where I used to live, had a pretty good curbside recycling program years ago. Residents would put plastic and aluminum containers into a bin, along with newsprint. The recycling truck would pick it up outside of your home and send it off to be recycled. The program didn’t last, but it was worth the proverbial college try.

I’m hopeful Houston can pull this new no-sort program off.

It might be quite an irony that a city with no zoning laws and some of the worst air quality in the Western Hemisphere could develop a solid waste recycling program that saves energy, trees and creates a little bit of efficiency in an otherwise wasteful world.