I grew up with a recycling ethos that felt as natural to me as the values of honesty and respect. In fact, my hometown of Seattle was one of the first cities to pilot a curbside recycling program. So I’m embarrassed to admit that a few years ago, along with becoming a new mom, I also became an errant recycler. My husband and I—not only full-time working parents, but selfish older parents who were artists, accustomed to time alone to think and brood and re-create the world—went into a disastrous spin in which we felt pressed for time in everything we did. Unfortunately, recycling fell by the wayside.
We still reused bags and recycled newspapers and maybe 50 percent of our bottles and cans. But more than one time in our garbage can beneath the sink, I saw glass jars, milk cartons, various plastics, and … well, no need to list all of the ugly details. Suffice it to say that at that time in our lives, taking a glass jar out to the recycling bin in the alley felt too time-consuming. Reducing our use of products required too much decision-making. Our tired minds weren’t inventive enough to think through smart ways to reuse items. In short, we were overwhelmed.
Now that our infant has become a capable 2-year-old, we’re back on the reduce, reuse, recycle program. But it made me and the Delicious Living staff wonder whether other people in maxed-out situations experienced the same—well, we’ll respectfully call it a relapse. Our managing editor remodeled an old house and felt similarly stretched. Many of us travel and find it hard to recycle in communities that don’t have easy systems in place. What can one do in these situations? We asked recycling experts to offer suggestions for parents, home remodelers, and travelers. We hope you find practical tips in our story “Recycle on the Fly.”