Single sort recycling has arrived in Minneapolis! Welcome to a new era where more than 18% of Minneapolitans recycle!
Wait, what? Yes, it’s true. One of the reasons Minneapolis switched to single sort is to increase recycling numbers. The old system was somewhat complex, but still, I am perplexed that, as recently as 2012, 80% of people in my fair city were still not taking this simplest of steps. This is a move in the right direction.
And look at the size of that cart! The idea is to make absolutely sure that anything people can dream up to recycle will fit in there. Maybe someday the city will make garbage carts smaller; ours is never more than half full. It’s a bit demotivating when you pay the same price for your garbage cart every month whether it’s got 1 bag of garbage in it or is overflowing every single week.
Solving problems like that on a city-wide scale is really tough. I don’t want to downplay it. But I also don’t feel like waiting around for city governments (or any government, really) to figure these things out when there are so many changes I can make at the household level. Therefore, I can’t waste this opportunity to bring up a key point:
Recycling should be lower priority than Reducing and Re-using.
Producing less waste in the first place should be our top priority (and I’m talking about waste at every level, including emissions). There is a new book out which I’ve recently added to my “must read” list; the author also has a blog: Zero Waste Home. There’s also a local blog with a similar theme: The Trashbasher (although she updates less frequently).
I’m really excited to see this idea getting momentum. It’s not just about buying less, it’s about creating opportunities to close as many loops as we can. It’s a cup of permaculture tea, applied to every aspect of our lives. Overwhelming, but maybe less so when taken one thing at a time.
So, yay to single sort recycling, but let’s all get going on our compost piles too, OK? Or maybe do a little bulk shopping at the grocery store? What are you doing to reduce waste? This is an area that, for me, needs constant inspiration, lest I slip back into old habits out of sheer exhaustion. So, inspire me please!