Friday, September 12, 2008

Victory! Except Not.

Recycling is a bit of a mystery here.  Our Home Owners' Association uses a privately contracted garbage service, who in turn subcontracts to a recycling service.  When I called to ask what they'd pick up, the Clueless Receptionist at the garbage service replied, "Everything."

FG: Everything?  That doesn't make any sense.  Aren't there certain numbers or other restrictions?

CR:  Ummm ... lemme check.

***Hum to yourself to mimic bland hold music.***

CR:  Hello, ma'am?  I checked.  You can put in anything.

FG:  Lightbulbs?  Aluminum foil?  Yogurt cups?

CR:  I think so.  

I rolled my eyes and hung up the phone, and have been putting anything in the bin that seems to have a reasonable chance of being recycled.  

But I've been angsting lately about yogurt cups.  You see, I love Yoplait yogurt.  Is it the healthiest thing for me?  No.  

Is it better than a large wedge of lemon cream pie?  Yes.

Would I happily shove my entire head into a lemon cream pie if I thought no one was looking?  Umm ... yeah, okay.  Some days I'd do it in front of a live, televised audience.

So Yoplait Light has been on my list of foods I buy despite their General Mills, big food background.  It helps that I can buy them in virtually every store within walking distance of our home, too.  And they run coupons.  Did I mention I'm a sucker for coupons?

Freddie has developed an affection for their banana flavor, and I've taken to sometimes sending one in his lunch box.  At not quite four, he's getting wise to the fact that other kids have far more tempting treats packed in their sacks.  If twice-weekly yogurt will stave off the inevitable requests for choco-sugar-coated-gummi-bombs, bring it on.

Here's the victory part:  Yesterday, Freddie gleefully reported that he'd washed out his yogurt cup.  When I opened Stripey, his tiger-shaped lunchbox, what did I find?  The regular assortment of refillable juice box, plastic dishes and lids, plus one Yoplait yogurt container.  He crowed about the same achievement to Franklin at bedtime.

Wahoo!  My child has been paying attention!  He knows that yogurt containers go to the left of the sink, so they can be rinsed, dried on the mat on the right side of the sink and recycled.  He gets it!


The downside?  While I've since confirmed that our recycler probably recycles yogurt containers - they collect for the county next door, a progressive place that instituted extensive plastics recycling a few years back - it appears that Yoplait containers might still be problematic.  Some of it is their hazardous-to-animals inverted shape (apparently squirrels and skunks peek in and end up wearing them as hats) and some of it is the type of plastic from which they're made, which some sites suggest is the least desirable type.

It's probably time to suck it up and switch to Stonyfield Farms.  They have lemon.  And, if I buy the big container, banana, too.  Plus, we already buy Recycline toothbrushes, one of several products made from Stonyfield scrap.  Only trouble?  It would mean driving about 20 miles round trip to fetch them.  We're tragically far from a decent organic market.  Stocking up on cereal and such is easily done, but yogurt?  Yikes!

Our Home Owner's Association is asking our management company to ask the garbage company (who will probably have to ask the recycling company) to clarify what they take.  When they finish whispering down the alley, I'll have to make a decision.

Or, you know.  Paint the containers and convince Freddie that they're better for stacking than Legos.  If my kid is schooling his teachers to segregate garbage from recyclables, he might just go for it.

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