Monday, January 9, 2012

Tree-Hugger Idea #2 - Recycling New Jersey Style

I was born and raised in NJ and admittedly it's not my favorite place.  I come back here once a year for a week or two during the holidays to see my family and that's about the extent of my connection with the North East anymore.  I was reminded, though, of one great thing about NJ when I was out for my walk the other morning.  Residents here really know how to recycle and they've been doing it like this for twenty-four years (in Somerset County at least). 

My father is in charge of recycling in their household and he says it takes him about a half hour every other week, or one hour a month to prepare their disposed items for recycling.  This includes, rinsing glass, plastic & aluminum cans and jars (minus the lids) and placing them in blue recycling barrels, breaking down all cardboard boxes (tissue, cereal, pizza, frozen dinner, etc), stacking and tying them with twine, stacking all newsprint paper and tying it with twine, stacking all "other" paper and tying it with twine, placing used batteries in a ziplock bag and more I'm probably missing.  My dad says it's become second nature after all these years and he thinks it's time well spent.
Recycling Day in Somerset County, NJ
(check the end of this post for links to great info about their award-winning program)
What's so encouraging, is how well people seem to follow the recycling rules.  When you look up and down the street on recycling day, everyone's items are stacked neatly at the curb and in the proper manner to be picked up by the recycling truck.  I think there's a fine system in place that serves as the motivation for this conformity, but it seems to work really well.
The state of California, where I live, is often known for it's progressiveness where environmental policy is concerned but they sure could take a lesson from NJ when it comes to effective and manditory, residential recycling programs.

I gave this a 3 on the Tree-Hugger Severity scale because it takes no financial investment at all and a resonably small amount of effort is required.  Of course, if your town doesn't have this type of program in place, the only thing you can do is vote for it when the issue shows up on the ballot and write letters to your local representatives letting them know that you think this is important.

Somerset County, NJ's Award Winning Recycling Program
Somerset County's Residential Recycling Rules - Check this out as a resource for starting a local residential recycling program in your area.

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