My last post on giving away socks was easy peasy. This one took some homework and research. We’re all familiar with the environmental slogan, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” This is good; but I sometimes rant about how folks often jump to the Recycle part and overlook the more substantive Reduce/Reuse aspect. After all, we wouldn’t have to recycle so much if we really lived more lightly by consuming less and reusing what we already have. Well, today I’m taking exception to my own advice.

It all started several weeks ago as I was driving through the neighborhood on our weekly garbage collection day (which is also recycling day). I noticed that many homes only had their brown garbage carts out at the curb (no green recycling carts). I wondered why?

  • Maybe they were out of town? But no, they had to be home to put out their brown cart.
  • Maybe they didn’t know that both the brown and the green carts were free?
  • Maybe they didn’t have any paper, glass, cans, or plastic bottles to recycle? (Maybe I’ve been doing too good of a job of picking up recyclables that I see on the street during my daily walk. 😉 )

Hmmm. I decided to do some research. On the next garbage/recycling day, I walked through the neighborhood and counted.
• 102 places had BOTH a brown and a green cart at the curb. Good!
• 160 places had ONLY a brown cart at the curb. (Some of these places had 2 brown carts but no green cart. I assume this was because they were duplex homes rather than one family regularly just had too much garbage to fit into one can.)

Since this was research, I peeked into a few of the brown carts and noticed that recyclable cardboard, cans, etc. were easily visible. Groan.

What to do?
1. I could just swallow my frustration and feel satisfied (smug?) that at least my family and closest neighbors were recycling. After all, I’m busy. I have other important things to do. I’m not my neighbor’s keeper.
2. I could take a step to multiply my recycling effort. This idea came to me because of a workshop that Jim and I are facilitating called the Pachamama Drawdown Initiative based on Paul Hawken’s Drawdown book which outlines 100 solutions to reverse global warming. The idea is to move beyond personal environmental sustainability lifestyle changes to find ways to multiply our efforts on a community and systemic way.

I chose #2 and decided that one way I could influence at least my neighborhood was to put a notice in our local Neighbor NextDoor email group.  Many communities have these private social networks that send out emails about local services. It seems to be especially useful when looking for lost dogs or cats or alerting folks to suspicious activity in the neighborhood. I called our local waste collection company, got some facts and posted this notice.

Dear Neighbor Nextdoor, I care about our neighborhood and about our planet. Today was garbage and recycling day in Latonia where I live. On garbage/recycling day I have noticed that sometimes only the brown garbage carts are next to the curb but no green recycling carts. I decided to do an informal survey of how many people use the green recycling carts provided FREE by Rumpke. 102 homes put out both carts, BUT 160 homes put out ONLY the brown garbage carts. We can do a lot better! Did you know that you can easily get a green cart FREE by calling Rumpke (1-800- 828-8171) and talking to customer service? They will deliver the size cart you want to your home within 48 hours. Recycling is picked up every week on the same day as your garbage day. Website: Email:

So far I’ve gotten 8 responses thanking me for the information and often saying they didn’t know the green carts were free or how to get them.