For as long as I can remember, recycling has been an important part of my life. My students in Woodburn, often called me a hippie when I made them take their paper out of the garbage can and put it in the recycling. It was such an imposition on them that they had to call me names. But if being a hippie means caring about the environment, then I’ll take it!
I was lucky to grow up in a place where recycling was well supported by the infrastructure. In high school I was unhappy with the recycling situation, so I took it on as a leadership project. I started a recycling club, each week we (some co-hippies) collected all the paper in the building and took it to the outdoor recycling bins..
When I moved to California for college I was a little upset at the lack of recycling, but the school was working on it and over my four years there things got better. In Keizer, Oregon, where I was living before coming to the UAE, I could not only recycle at my house, but also compost virtually any organic product. I was a recycling and composting fool. Until August.
The UAE, being nearly 41 years young, is still working on its infrastructure. Recycling, while important (and currently being developed) isn’t available in residential areas. Since I moved into my apartment in early September I have been saving as much of my recyclables as I can, hoping that I’d figure out a way to recycle them. I had heard it was possible, but wasn’t exactly sure what to do. After asking around, I finally got in contact with the recycling center.
Yesterday afternoon, I filled my car with as much of my recycling as I could. This morning, I took off for the recycling center. Following the signs to the “compost plant” I got myself there. At the “compost plant” there is a small area off to the right (near the office building) where you can drop off recyclables.
As I unloaded my car, a gentleman from the office building came out to speak with me. He asked if I had collected all this myself. I told him that I’d been collecting it since I’d moved here and only just figured out what to do with it. He thanked me and said “we really appreciate you doing this” and I said, “I’m just grateful this is available, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw this stuff away”. We chatted a bit about what types of items I can bring there (they don’t recycle glass, but will find something to do with it–he said it wouldn’t end up in the landfill). In fact, he told me that most of the plastics are ground up and turned into a special soil mix that is then sold throughout the region. That concerns me a bit, as I’m not sure I want plastic mixed in with the soil on the ground, but hopefully they know what they are doing.
So now that I know where to take my recyclables, I am very happy.