The Sisterhood of the Travelling Blue Box

Last fall, my son and I went to some sort of City run information fair about waste management and conservation.  My son got a real kick out of flushing bright rubber tubes down a low flow toilet they had on display. Flushing over and over and over.  I got little more out of the recycling displays.

I learned that the City now accepts a wider range of plastics and even empty aerosol cans into the blue boxes.  That’s how I started recycling more last fall.  But I started recycling a long time ago.

Aluminium soft drink cans were one of the first things we started to recycle at school.  Drink containers are the best things to recycle—not too messy and the material tends to be in demand.       

When Cornwall (where I was living at the time) launched its municipal blue box program, my family started to put a variety of food containers in the blue box.  I don’t think we even rinsed them or took the labels off, but it was a start.

In the late 1990s, I went away to school in Guelph, Ontario.  Here, instead of a blue box, we put all the “dry”, non-compostable waste in clear blue plastic bags.  This was part ofGuelph’s experiment in a Wet/Dry garbage system, wherein all household waste went into one of those two waste streams.  By then, I was rinsing out tin cans before chucking them.

I lived in student residence the summer of 1998 in Rimouski, Quebec.  I didn’t see any recycling program there…  Really?  We just put recyclables in the garbage?  Weird.  Recycling had become second nature.

When I lived in an apartment in Cornwall, I had a small blue box that I would empty into one of the blue carts by the parking lot when I took my trash to the dumpster.

At my apartment in Williamsburg, we stored recyclables in an outdoor wooden cupboard. Williamsburg was quaint and small like that. 

Most communities use the blue box, but the program is a bit different in each to suit the community.  What goes into the blue box is different from one city to the next and changes over time.  So part of the recycling habit is keeping tabs on the latest recycling news.  How do you get the blue box to fit in where you are?

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How much each week?

an ongoing list of how much garbage and recycling my family puts to the road each week:

2012

First week of April:       one garbage can, one black box and one green bin

Second week of April:   one blue box and one green bin

Third week of April:      one garbage can, one black box and one green bin, plus two empty cardboard boxes that didn’t fit in the black box

Fourth week of April:   one blue box and one green bin

First week of May:        one garbage can, one black box and one green bin

Second week of May:    one blue box and one green bin

Third week of May:      one garbage can, a crib mattress, a furnace filter, two black boxes (I had a backlog of shredded paper), one green bin

Fourth week of May:   2 “blue” boxes (my black box served as an extra blue box filled with recyclables a neighbour and I collected from a park) and one green bin

First week of June:      2 recycling bins of paper/cardboard, an empty box, one garbage can and one green bin

Second week of June:  2 “blue” boxes and one green bin

Third week of June:     1 black box, one garbage can and one green bin

Fourth week of June:   1 green bin

Fifth week of June:       1 black box, one garbage can and one green bin 

First week of July:        2 blue boxes and one green bin

Second week of July:    1 black box, one garbage can, one furnace filter, and one green bin

Third week of July:       1 blue box and one green bin

Fourth week of July:     1 black box, one garbage can, one crib frame, and one green bin

First week of August:    1 blue box and one green bin

Second week of August: 1 black box, one garbage can, and one green bin

Third week of August:    2 “blue” boxes and one green bin

Fourth week of August:  1 black box, one garbage can, a furnace filter and one green bin

Fifth week of August:      1 blue box and one green bin

First week of September: 1 black box, one garbage can, and one green bin

Second week of September: 1 blue box and one green bin

Third week of September:    1 black box, one garbage can, and one green bin

Fourth week of September:  1 blue box and one green bin

First week of October:             1 black box, one garbage can and a garbage bag, and one green bin

Second week of October:        1 blue box and one green bin

Third week of October:            1 black box, and one green bin (now that the rest of the City is going to biweekly garbage pickup, I needed to get in sync with a new schedule:  garbage will be picked up the same week as the blue bin)

Fourth week of October:         1 blue box and one garbage can and one green bin

 Fifth week of October:             1 green bin (I forgot to take out the black bin)

For anyone not familiar with Ottawa’s recycling system:

Black box:  paper and cardboard

Blue box:   plastic, metal and glass recyclables

Green bin: compostable waste