Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Recycling Day

No this is not the entry where I will recycle old material.  It just happens to be one of my many days out of the month that I will load my bicycle full of plastic bags (those bags which are so hard to come by in the Netherlands) and rattle my way down the brick paved streets to the various recycling points along my journey.  You may be wondering if the Dutch do not have roadside recycling service and I will assure you that they do, but it is not like that in the United States.  We have two different garbage bins that get set out on a weekly or biweekly basis.  The green bin is for all organic materials or anything that comes out of your garden.  Why this would include trellises or wiring is beyond my comprehension, but if I can dump something in the green bin I will as anything I put into the black bin I have to pay for in weight.  That is, I have to pay the regular fee for them to come and pick it up every other week and then extra for how much it weighs.  So, the amount in which we throw out I try to monitor with the strictness of a German nun.  Try to keep the amount in which a family of five can produce in two weeks into the compact size of a single garbage can in America and I will reward you with one of my sacred plastic grocery bags.

The other roadside service that we get is for boxes/paper and plastic bag materials (including but not limited to the wrapping around your toilet paper in or your multi-pack 2-liter bottles).  These things are picked up two Saturdays out of the month, but why they choose to pick them up on two Saturdays in a row is beyond me.  Believe me, the piles of folded up boxes and papers are towering by the time that first Saturday rolls around and you can trust me when I say that by the time that second Saturday arrives I find I have not used up a single box of cereal or even had a pizza night.  How we make up for it in the three weeks after that last Saturday pick up is beyond me.

On another note, there are quarterly (or somewhere there abouts) dates that you can set out your old furniture or appliances and they will pick them up for you.  If you can transport them yourself you can drop them off at centers on certain dates and times of the week as well.  Strangely enough, you do not have to pay for your appliances because they've already charged you the disposal fee at the time you purchased it new.

All dates in between these roadside service days find me hauling our other garbage to the Retourette (a cute little recycling center equipped with coin deposit rides for the kids) and the diaper drop.  Stunning?  Yes.   They have devised the unbelievable and recycle disposable diapers here!  And if you've never hauled a single plastic garbage bag of used diapers around let me just tell you am I ever glad I don't have to pay the price per pound on those babies!  As it is I have a hard time lifting the huge metal garbage container lid with one hand and flinging the bag of smelly nasties into it with the other.  And the Retourette takes the rest: all colors of things glass, aluminum, paper, cartons, shoes, plastics, and will pay you for beer bottles/cans and the liter - 2 liter bottles of drinks.  The way they pay you for this is to give you a coupon which you can cash in with your next purchase at the affiliated store, but it's money nonetheless.

Though I think America has taken the best from all of it's ancestral cultures this is one thing which I am afraid they have lagged behind.  Though I do not much appreciate hauling my trash around by bike several times a week, I do appreciate that almost everything our family disposes of can be recycled.  That black bin can sometimes get set out with only one garbage bag in it and boy are they ever as light as I can make them.  So . . . now you know all my dirty little details.  Have a happy trash free day my dear American friends.