When inviting friends over to watch the Islanders in the playoffs, it’s customary for everyone to bring their adult beverage of choice. I’m a Coors Light guy myself, but my friends brought other types of bottled beer as well. Nothing like cold beer in a bottle.
There were Stella Artois, some Michelob Ultra’s here and there and a few pilsners from brewing companies I had never heard of, like Von Trapp and Wolters. As the empties began to pile up, someone asked where he should put them. When I told him to just put them in the pail, he looked at me kind of funny and asked why we weren’t recycling them?
I think deep down in their heart, everyone wants to try and do their part to save the planet. But here in the Town of Oyster Bay, we don’t recycle glass anymore.
Recycling became a part of life in the suburbs many years ago. We separated our glass, plastics, aluminum, cardboard and papers from the regular garbage like good little soldiers without any thought to what transpired once it left the curbside of our homes.
Everything seemed to be going well until things changed here in 2019. Now, the town won’t take glass or dirty cardboard, like pizza boxes. No Styrofoam, plastic grocery bags or plastic lawn furniture, like chairs or tables. All that goes in the regular garbage now, to be brought to the landfills and left to decompose naturally—except, of course, those things don’t decompose naturally. Wasn’t that the original problem recycling was supposed to solve?
The new rules require residents to place cardboard and paper at the curbside instead of inside the recycling containers. On a windy day, without the weight of glass and bundled newspapers anymore, the containers and their contents are strewn across our streets like a scene from the zombie apocalypse.
I feel like I’m committing a crime against humanity when tossing all those glass bottles into the trash. I thought recycling glass was not only good for the environment but had hundreds of other uses as well?
To make matters worse, town officials are turning into Italian Grandmothers, guilting you into recycling glass on your own. Just because they won’t pick up your glass anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still recycle it. Supervisor Joseph Saladino said, “We hear the public’s cry that these products need to be recycled. We’re coming up with alternatives, we’re coming up with solutions.” Their solution is to provide a total of five (yes, five) igloo shaped repositories throughout all 200 square miles of the town and let the more than 88,000 families drop their glass off in those locations.
If you want to continue to help save the planet, they are going to make you work for it. Instead of simply placing glass items in your recycling pail and dragging it to your curb once a week, you’ll now need to clean the bottles, remove the caps and labels, collect them in your home and transport them to the nearest recycling igloo.
Even with a financial incentive to return bottles and cans that we initially paid a five-cent deposit on, more than 65 percent of deposits are never returned. Instead of visiting one of the hundreds of redemption centers and getting those nickels back, we gave NY State over $650 million in uncollected deposits.
What’s the chances residents will schlep their glass to one of the few recycling igloos provided? Maybe we’ll start to bring those bottles back and reclaim our nickels instead of putting them in the trash, maybe not. Somehow, I just don’t see making a trip to these limited recycling locations as an option that will catch on.
With an aging population, we all still want to do our part to save the planet, we just don’t want to leave our house to do it.
Paul DiSclafani, a longtime Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.