Days 365+71 lawnmowerAbout a year ago our electric lawnmower died. I agreed to find a fitting home for its final resting place. We bought a new mower and I procrastinated about researching how to recycle old lawnmowers. Well, it’s grass mowing season again and Jim reminded me of my promise. Spurred on by the recent grim reports of climate change and guilt I realized that if I didn’t do it now, it might stay stuck in a corner of our garage for another year. I bit the bullet. Here’s how it went:

  • 10 minutes of internet searching and 2 phone calls to find Can Dew Recycling which was not only close by but even paid me money for the metal.
  • 10 minutes to help Jim load it into the car. That time included finding some other metal stuff that we’ve been saving for a rainy recycling day.
  • 30 minutes to drive to Can Dew Recycling, drop off the mower and miscellaneous metal, get paid a whopping $8, and return home.

Why did it take me a year to do something that took less than an hour?

6 Lessons learned:
Many good environmental intentions fall by wayside because of:

  1. Uncertainty. Not knowing what can be recycled and what cannot leads to indecision and thus procrastination.
  2. Not knowing a place to take it all. Curbside recycling is great, but what about metal, batteries, Rx drugs, etc. Once I knew where to take the lawnmower it was easy. Now I’ll readily do it for other metals (and get rich 😕 ).
  3. Inertia & Inconvenience. It can be a hassle to separate trash or find convenient containers to store the various recyclables until you find “the place.” Reading a blog post like this or having a buddy to hold me accountable helped.
  4. Not having a system and practice in dealing with recyclables. Recycling papers, cans, plastic, and hard to recycle teracycle objects got much easier once we assigned a container to each in our home. The first 3 items go into curbside recycling. Terracycling has its own special bin.
  5. Recycling is good but pre-cycling is better. This means using less items and packaging that need to be recycled in the first place.
  6. Governmental policies. Reducing our household energy use is good but developing less carbon based energy sources is better. No matter how good our family is about using CFL light bulbs, cloth bags at the grocery, sweaters in the winter, etc. it’s a drop in the bucket of energy savings. Perhaps the biggest benefit of these measures is that it motivates me to get involved in changing institutional and governmental policies that continue our society’s dependence on fossil fuels. One political step is to support a carbon fee that is revenue neutral. This would give alternative energy sources a level playing field to develop clean energy. The best organization I’ve found to put my energy into is Citizen’s Climate Lobby.

What has helped or hindered your own recycling efforts?