Just As I Thought

At least I know it’ll get recycled

It’s Sunday night in my little neighborhood, and everyone has put out their trash bins for tomorrow morning’s pickup. We all have two wheelie bins, one for trash and one for recycling — here in San Jose, a vast amount of stuff is “recyclable”, although the reality is that a large amount of it isn’t actually recycled.
Just a few minutes ago, I watched a woman and her daughter make their way down my street, opening every recycle bin searching for cans and bottles. She picked them out with a handled grasping tool and put them in her bag.
This sort of bothered me, and has in the past when it seemed like bedraggled suspicious looking people were going through our garbage. Of course, this also brings up the spectre of identity theft and the like from all the junk mail thrown away in those bins.
But I started to think: I pay about $25 a month for trash and recycling. I also pay recycling fees when I buy products in cans and bottles — but one can’t return those empties to the grocery store for a refund, like in the past. It is another insidious tax from the state of California, one that we pay twice.
But one can take bottles and cans to recycling companies, who pay by the pound. Now, there is no way I’m going to do this, both because I am too lazy and hardly ever buy drinks, in cans or bottles. So it would cost me more in gasoline and CO2 emissions to take the recycling in than I’d make in selling it.
So, if an enterprising person who needs those few dollars wants to take the bottles out of my bin, I say more power to them.
Still, my gut bothers me when this happens. Maybe it’s latent classism, maybe it’s the feeling that my recycling bin is an extension of my private property.

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