Recycling in today’s product, not produce, society

I took a picture of our large and extremely full recycling bin today.

full large recycling bin old and new recycling binsRidiculous, I think to myself. How does this happen? How did we become a family who rarely had anything in a tiny open box-style recycling bin (grey box in second picture) and now have a large, lid-covered bin on wheels completely full to the rim every two weeks? And it’s not even a gift giving holiday….

I look at the packaging I put in blue bin. Granted, if I actually collapsed all the milk and juice containers, not just the first few at the bottom of the bin, my bin wouldn’t be so full. Same with boxes…you know when you bring home groceries from No Frills, or Costco. Sometimes I just toss them in, instead of ripping them up or at least folding them into a flat sheet.

But who has time to do that?

(Well, I do. But it’s just so awkward. First I gotta get the industrial tape off the box, and when that doesn’t work I gotta locate some scissors, and while I’m looking for scissors I pass by a laundry basket or a sink full of dishes or a pile of library books I’ve been meaning to put in the car…) I end up just throwing the box into the bin (and tossing empty loose items into the box, to fill it up).

Not very ecological of me, nor particularly savvy. I know that.

I try to consider the packaging of products when I buy things. I really do. But every single thing is packaged in shelf-attractive, convenient-for-stacking, clear plastic or Styrofoam type of containers. They’re packaged for display purposes, not environmental purposes, and sometimes I buy them for similar reasons. I even admit it. Most of us have finite cupboard or fridge space, and how certain items are packaged could, theoretically, influence purchasing decisions. To save space, you understand.

Space is a valuable commodity in a family home, right?

Having said that, the day the City of Toronto started welcoming plastic bags into the blue bin, I was not unhappy. At least now, IF I had to buy something in a bag, I could recycle the bag…other than use it for dog turd pick up, or something.


Still, I couldn’t help but reflect on this recycling issue the other day as I piled empty containers for the blue bin by the side door. Recycling day is every second Wednesday, and most of my stuff is already in the bin, but then I was shopping, and cooking…

My pile kept getting larger. And that was only halfway through the day!

recyclable containers for the blue bin

The juice container is empty. In the summer time I sometimes use these types of containers for the garden. But it’s not summer, nor gardening season…The clear plastic containers came from big box stores, and the larger one had croissants in it. Could those have been bagged, instead? I wondered. But then the big box store would have had at least some of its product crushed, not just by storage prior to their sale, but by hurried, distracted customers browsing the display table.

We’ve all seen what retail stores look like a day after Boxing Day.

So I do get it, the reason for the excessive packaging. I get the debates too. I pay attention to them and mention them to the family. We try to make conscious and green choices, most of the time. Ultimately however, it’s a lifestyle decision in our society that has to change.

All I can say is, I look forward to returning to farmer’s markets with my baskets and cloth bags, and hopefully reduce the amount of blue bin material we place in the bin.

In the meantime, I lug my wheeled bin to the curb every other week, and hope the material does in fact get recycled.

5 Replies to “Recycling in today’s product, not produce, society”

  1. I’m happy our garbage production seems to be going down, but you’re right – at the same time, our recycling production is going up. I’d love to take a trip to a recycling plant and see what actually DOES get recycled – I’ve always felt it’s much less than we think.


    1. There have been programs on tv that address this in the past, but not recently I don’t think. A documentary on recycling city waste is in order, perhaps. Not for punishing anyone, but for educating us all.

      Always nice to read your comments, Lynn. 🙂


  2. The amount that we recycle is significantly less in the summer than it is in the winter. I hate that most of our food comes with excessive packaging, especially fruits and vegetables. In the summer most of it comes from our garden or from markets, so there is very little packaging at all.

    I would like to see businesses take more responsibility for the amount of packaging that they put on their products. In Europe, I know there are regulations that help encourage or require more minimal packaging.


    1. I grew up in Switzerland whose ideas about this kind of thing are similar to Germany, France (I’m sure you’re aware). I don’t recall these problems being…problems when I was a child. In fact, I remember walking to many places in the town of Uster (near Zurich) with my grandmother, carrying in a cloth bag the empty glass bottles (not just wine, but spring water, yogurt containers, etc) the recyclable material and depositing them into clearly marked metal bins. It wasn’t enforced, or policed, but rather common place. It’s what one does.

      Thank you for your comment Annie!


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