Let’s start small with local recycling effort

Recycling didn’t happen in Seattle overnight.

I was living in the greater Seattle area when it started to become part of the culture, but it wasn’t an instant change with one day nobody recycling and the next day everyone doing it.

As a child I gathered pop cans. My family would take them down to the recycling center on a regular basis and get a few dollars for the effort. It was something that few people did, and almost not worth the effort for the meager reward.

Eventually we got curbside recycling for aluminum. It was a small, open bin, the size of a milk crate, for cans only. Once we were used to that, a bin for plastic or paper was added. At one point we were putting out four crate-sized bins on garbage day to be picked up.

As sorting facilities got better, bins were merged into a single large rolling bin with a lid for recycling. By the time we got a single merged recycling bin, people in the Seattle area were aware of what could and could not be recycled, thanks in part to the step-by-step education from using the smaller bins. There was also a large sticker on the bin that listed all the stuff you could recycle.

I would love to see recycling take off here. I would love to see Yakima County recycling enough to bring in some industries that use recycled materials, bringing jobs and money to the area.

But I’m fully aware that it won’t happen overnight. Even if the single recycling bins that we had in Seattle were given to everyone in the county, people would still be confused. And some people wouldn’t care enough to sort their garbage.

There are a lot of locals who want to recycle. We sort our garbage and take it down to recycling bins at the community center or one of the transfer stations. It is not easy. But we make the effort because good things can come from recycling.

I would like to see Yakima Waste start small and kick start recycling in the county, maybe with a concerted effort to convince people to just recycle aluminum. There is a company in Union Gap that uses recycled aluminum, perhaps if enough people recycled, we could supply it with all its needed raw material.

If that effort succeeds, maybe other industries would consider moving in, and other materials could be recycled.

But I wish we’d get started. It’s frustrating for this former wet-sider to no longer easily recycle stuff.

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