Recycling

Tonight I prepared the refuse for pick up. It took me about half an hour. This was my first time, and I wanted to do it properly, and, well, there’s a lot of steps. I didn’t want to mess it up. Halifax is at the front of waste reduction initiatives: it is the ‘greenest’ of the Canadian provinces and HRM is the greenest city in NS. So, we’re talking the greenest of the green. Green of the crop if you will. Massachusetts is one of the greenest states, but Halifax begins where Massachusetts ends. I am used to sorting out bottles, cans and paper for recycling, but here, there were four piles in all–one for paper, one for recyclables (cans and bottles plus milk cartons, plastic bags and plastic containers #1, #2 and #4. Starting next week, they will also take #5 plastic) one for ‘organics’ (food and yard waste as well as dirty paper plates, towels and napkins) and one for garbage. It is quite an eye-opener to see how small the garbage bag is, when everything that can be recycled is taken out. And here’s the best part: the city provides each household with two compost bins–a little kitchen composter and a big ‘tip in’ Green Bin for the weekly pick up. When you move, you have to leave your bins for the next resident. The municipality also picks up the waste at no additional charge–I hesitate to use the word free, because it’s not, but I was paying $300 a year for trash pick up in Massachusetts.

My landlady takes great pride in not using the Green Bin, which stays out back, because she composts everything herself, ‘using all of it.” She does vermiculture, (composting with worms) and the kitchen composter gets what the worms don’t like. Except for protein, fat, bones and shells, which could be put in the Green Bin, but instead get put in the trash, as do dirty paper towels and serviettes. In my mind, that’s kind of cheating. I bring this up because we are having a bit of a conflict about trash. She tells me to put bones, lobster shells and paper towels in the garbage, but then says I make ‘too much garbage!’ Last week, on trash day, I came out of my room with a small bag and she said “More?” in an incredulous voice. More? It was one little bag of trash from my room, mostly tissues from morning allergies. And it was a week’s worth! I felt like Oliver Twist asking for another bowl of gruel. A couple of times I have even ‘packed’ trash out to furtively stuff it into a public receptacle. Still, though, I felt really cheap sliding my trash out, and resented feeling like I had to.

I arrived at what I thought was the perfect solution. The lot next to ours holds a garden where an old man from the next house putters around every morning. I noticed that he never moves his Green Bin to his yard (like he is supposed to) but leaves it on the street between our houses. Perfect—I’d just throw my ‘organics’ into his bin! The other night, my landlady was complaining to her boyfriend about the amount of freezer space I have used (it’s less than the worms have, by the way). I said “Oh, not to worry, a lot of that is lobster shells and stuff that will be gone by Tuesday, and told her of my brilliant plan to toss it in the neighbor’s Green Bin. My plan displeased her.

“If I saw someone throwing anything into my trash bin, I would be very upset!”

“But he leaves it out all week!”

“Nevertheless”

“Yesterday, he was urinating in his garden!”

“So? It keeps the ants away.” she staunchly replied. (!)

“My point is, that anyone who leaves his bin out all week and urinates in public view can’t be so bound by propriety as to take offense at anyone’s adding to his midden!” She sniffed and stalked off. I asked the boyfriend if he would be offended if someone put trash in his barrel and he said “of course not.” So last night, like a ninja, I stole out to add my organic refuse to the neighbor’s Green Bin. So far, so good.

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