Blue Box Recycling – Benefit to Homeowners
As a father of two boys moving his family across the country to start a new career, I had a lot of concerns. We moved from Brunswick, Ohio to San Jose, a large Northern Californian city about an hour outside of San Francisco. San Jose had a quality school system, low crime rates, a number of highly regarded museums and was home to a large number of tech developers and multiple media specialists such as myself.
San Jose also has a municipal waste disposal system that I completely unfamiliar with when I first arrived; in addition to curbside garbage pick-up, San Jose sanitation also collected recyclable materials and yard trimmings.
Where I grew up in Ohio, specifically a small bedroom community called Medina in the northern part of the state, we didn’t have a city recycling program. You just put out your trash out every Monday in bins that you purchased yourself and the material was supposedly sorted out later, a practice I have been always somewhat dubious off.
In San Jose, the city provides residents with three 20 gallon stand up carts for weekly waste disposal paid for via a monthly bill. One for trash, one for recyclable materials like cartons, paper, plastic items, boxes, metal cans and glass bottles and jars and a third cart for yard trimmings like grass clippings, branches and leaves.
The carts were color coded. Black for garbage, blue and gray for recyclables and green for yard trimming. I was pleased with San Jose’s simple and easy to understand system of waste collection. Not only was I assured that my trash wasn’t just indiscriminately left in an overflowing landfill somewhere, I could also teach my kids about the importance of recycling.
After one quick lesson, Jeremy, 14, and Thomas, 16, knew to separate their trash into the appropriate bins. They understood that by recycling reusable material like paper, metal and plastic, companies across the world wouldn’t need to cut down as many young trees to make books and boxes or smelt down as much waste producing ore or melt down as many polymers that wouldn’t biodegrade in ourlifetimes.
I explained to them that by recycling, the city made money take could be used for the good of all San Jose residents, such as hiring law enforcement, fire and rescue workers to keep our streets safe while keeping taxes low for middle class families like our own.
For the first time, I was taking an active part in the preservation of the future, not just for my children, by their children as well. I felt very satisfied to contribute to the ecological health of my city with the simple act of sorting the trash into green, black and blue boxes.
It sounds silly, but I rest a little easier now knowing that I’ve passed on values to my children that those same values will help preserve this fragile blue orb for generations to come. With an act no more complicated or thoughtful than chucking a soda can or water bottle into a blue-topped cart instead of a black one, our species environmental footprint can be lessened by metric tons. It’s truly inspiring to contemplate.