Saturday, January 16, 2010

DC Feeds My Addiction: Expanded Recycling! (also a short bitch session about DC-DPW)

Gosh, I hate to moan and groan about the District's programs on the environment (really, I do), but I was recently AMAZED to learn that DC has expanded its recycling A LOT. Really, you can recycle twice as many things as you were able to before.

But does anyone in DC actually know about this? Um, no.

Did you know that you could now recycle hard plastics like lawn furniture in your bin? Or that expanded recycling has been available for over a year? Yeah, probably not.

Even I, your trusty, semi-competent, inconsistent blogger did not know this until just recently.

So, specifically, the things that you can recycle now that you could not recycle before:

  • Books (including paperbacks, textbooks and hardbacks)
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Narrow-neck plastic containers (other than for motor oil) that carry plastic resin identification codes 1 through 7
  • Plastic bags, e.g., grocery bags, newspaper bags, and shopping bags. Please put your plastic bags into one plastic bag then place it in your recycling container. We will accept more than one bag of plastic bags.
  • Rigid plastics including plastic milk/soda crates, plastic buckets with metal handles, plastic laundry baskets, plastic lawn furniture, plastic totes, plastic drums, plastic coolers, plastic flower pots, plastic drinking cups/glasses, plastic 5-gallon water bottles, plastic pallets, plastic toys, and empty plastic garbage/recycling bins
  • Telephone books
  • Wide-mouth containers such as peanut butter, margarine/butter tubs, yogurt, cottage, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise, whipped topping, and prescription (remove the identification label) and over-the-counter medicine bottles. (note that the lids and caps do not need to be removed.) Please do not include Styrofoam meat trays, lunch “clamshells” or foam packaging, such as “peanuts.”
This additional recycling is now consistently overflowing our little recycling bin (we do not have one of those fancy blue bins yet).

The DPW's approach to community outreach on recycling has been, primarily, to send out a brochure, in an unmarked envelope to everyone in the District. It looks suspiciously very much like, um, I don't know, JUNK MAIL. Even a simple note like: "Your New Recycling Guidelines" would probably get folks to open it more often than just tossing it (often NOT in their recycling bin since the recycling rate in DC is a measly 20%). Hmmm, I wonder why.

I think its time that the DPW took its role more seriously.
It seems that everyone that I have met from that office is just punching the clock - there is no passion about the exciting things they could do to promote recycling in the District.

Time to make a change DPW - let's get it together!!

Also, I recently came across a blog that is just a super awesome resource for recycling info in DC: DC Recycler (I have a vision of caped super hero, with a big recycling sign on her chest).

(photo from Bill Adler at


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