Let’s talk trash. I mean the noun, not the verb. Trash is anything in our lives that is worth little or nothing. You’ve heard the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Sometimes we can give our gently-used-but-still-has-value-to-somebody trash to a good cause. There are several in Muskogee among which are the Salvation Army and Teen Challenge. But there is that trash that obviously is not valuable to anybody. What happens to it?
In Muskogee, it goes to the Muskogee landfill located southwest of town. Everybody ought to visit the landfill at least once, it is an adventure for all the senses, not least, olfactory. The citizens of Muskogee spend approximately $440,000 a year to pay for the privilege of dumping in the landfill to the tune of almost 800 pounds per family per year. I can think of other things to do with that money, can’t you?
Here’s the alternative — learn to recycle. To some of you just saying the word “recycle” conjures up images of tree-hugging hippies or hours spent washing out plastics and glass. But really, in 2019, we should be over it. Recycling is something every single individual needs to practice. The more adults who do it, the more our children will come to expect it. I didn’t have a recycle paper box in my classroom till one of my young people asked permission to put out a box. Of course, I said, embarrassed that I hadn’t thought of it first.
We have a recycle center in Muskogee. No, we don’t have curbside pick-up. We just can’t justify it yet. But if enough people were willing, we might get there. The recycling center, however, is centrally located and open Monday through Saturday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. It is located at 120 Iola St. Often there are individuals working there who will help you. It takes just about everything except flammable, chemical, drugs and will accept plastics, only 1 and 2. (Check the triangle on the bottom to see the numbers) Expired or drugs you want to get rid off can be brought to the police station. They have a disposal bin in their front lobby. Hazardous waste days are offered twice a year, and they announce in water bills, city website and the newspaper when and where they are happening.
Things to think about plastics that I didn’t know and maybe you didn’t know: Just because it says it is recyclable, it might not be. Simple plastics, like water bottles, are not a problem. However, coffee cups have layers, and they are a problem. Glass and metal can be recycled repeatedly, but plastics can only be recycled two or three times before they degrade too much. Scientists think that a piece of plastic might decompose in 450 to 1,000 years, or maybe never. It is true that dirty plastic can’t be recycled, so yes, you need to rinse food off before throwing in the bin.
Gratefully, recycling is not an all or nothing endeavor. You can do a little, and it still contributes to the solution. Just pick one thing you will recycle. Get a laundry basket or bucket and put it somewhere convenient and just recycle one thing. You will see how easy it is and becomes a habit.
I like this quote a lot, not sure who said it, even if it is only marginally appropriate.
“If you ever wonder whether someone is too good for you, I’d advise going through their trash. Really. No one looks superior after that.”
Wren Stratton is a longtime resident and former mayor of Muskogee.