I was reading Sustainablog the other day, and they had an interesting post about getting your family, especially your older parents, to recycle. That got me thinking about how things are changing around here in January. Namely, Johnson County is starting a mandatory recycling and composting program, as required by the state of Kansas. In fact, all Kansas counties will be doing this.

The Waste Problem

Why are we switching to mandatory recycling and composting? The answer to that is simple. We are running out of landfill space. This is a problem faced by many towns and cities.

trash

The Trashy Solution

So, how do you make recycling and composting mandatory?

  1. First, you switch to a volume-based or “pay-as-you-throw” fee service. Each hauler will set the volume of trash that it will collect each week for a monthly fee. The more trash you put out, the bigger your trash bill.
  2. Second, you make sure that every resident has curbside recycling. Not very many people in Overland Park recycle. I know because not too many people put out recycling every week. So, this week, the recycling company began giving out recycle bins to those residences that don’t have one. The new bins are much larger than the bins we currently have. So we need to trade up our bins.
  3. Third, provide curbside yard waste pick up, but divert the yard waste to recycling (e.g., composting).

One more change they are making is that everything will be picked up on the same day. That will be really nice, since it is a pain and the neck to take out the trash/recycling on two different days. In our household, taking the trash/recycling out on two different days has lead to forgetfulness. Woops!

Personal Experiences With Trash

I am really excited about these changes in waste management.

When we lived in San Diego, recycling was mandatory, and we routinely recycled most of our waste. Basically, we had two huge trash cans, one for trash and one for recycling. Usually, the recycle can was overflowing and the trash can had only one small bag in it.

It was a let down to move to Overland Park and discover how poor the recycling program was. My SIL was not recycling either.

To correct the problem (for our family) we got some recycle bins and I set up a composter. Now, we recycle as much as possible and compost our yard waste and veggie kitchen waste. My SIL takes all of the paper to the school where she works, for their paper recycling (the school gets paid for waste paper). We store our e-waste in the basement until we can take it to an e-waste recycle day being held by one of many local organizations that do that as a public service. As a result, we don’t put out much trash. And I, for one, am glad.

^ Eleanor ^