Recycling 1, 2, 3

Steve Davies

By Steve Davies,
Healthy Planet Columnist

When I was young and back when recycling was in its infancy, I remember seeing these huge bins, one for aluminum cans and then one each for green, brown, and clear glass along with recycling bins for cardboard and newspapers. These days however, add a range of plastics along with a wide variety of paper and cardboard and now recycling has gotten to be so much more complicated.

Unfortunately, most of us no longer go to our local recycling center. In fact, it’s probably safe to say the number of recycling centers have been slowly closing over the years. These days, most neighborhoods have their own recycling programs where each household is given a bin, a place to throw our recyclables into and put out on the curb once a week, along with the trash.

Now if you’re not sure as to if something can be recycled, you can go to your own city’s website and usually somewhere under the trash or sanitation department, you will find a tool like the Recycling Wizard over at Kirkwood. After a little research the other night though, metal bottle caps do show up but with the best option being to throw them in the trash. When I talked to someone over in the Kirkwood sanitation department recently, I was told they are recyclable.  

As someone who has been recycling for as long as I can remember, from when I owned my own small recycling business back in the 1980’s to organizing students in the state of Missouri for Earth Day 1990 to today, writing this column, I’m hoping to educate others about what can and can’t be recycled. Now that said, I’m also hoping to help educate not only other individuals but perhaps also communities and if we’re lucky, maybe a school or business. 

As someone who currently works one of my part-time jobs at a nearby educational institution, I’ve seen first-hand all the things that are thrown into those recycling bins and I’ve learned that when too much trash is thrown into a recycling bin, sometimes it will all just be thrown into the trash.

So, if you have questions, please feel free to ask me, THPRecycler@yahoo.com. I currently have conversations going on with the East-West Gateway Council of St. Louis, Earth911 and the city of Kirkwood as we talk about plastic bags, aluminum containers and pizza boxes. Recycling is a topic near and dear to my heart. While we can’t change the world by ourselves, we can change our little corner of the world, be it our house, our workplace, or the places we go to get away.