Category Archives: recycling


Q: Can I recycle receipts on thermal paper?

A: Inconclusive (like most recycling questions).  Some places yes, some places no.  I have an email out to the Lawrence Recycling people.

Yet another product for which recyclability seems intuitive (to me at least).

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recycling is (relatively) easy

I’ve been quiet lately because the semester has officially begun AND I came down with a killer sinus infection last weekend, but living ethically marches on.  I’ll post about my accidental meat-consumption snafu soon (another rookie mistake—I’m trying not to beat myself up about it) but in the meantime, I’ll update about our experience so far with recycling.

So I’ll just go ahead and say that recycling out here is fairly easy—it could be easier, sure—with a couple of caveats.  One of these caveats doesn’t even really affect us, but the city of Lawrence does not offer curbside recycling as a city service.  There’s a recycling service that one can opt to pay for, and as I understand the monthly fee is pretty small, but again, this doesn’t really affect us since we live in an apartment complex, and thus wouldn’t be eligible for curbside recycling regardless.  It’s a change from where I’m from: Hampton Roads has had curbside recycling as a city service since the 90’s, and the charge gets rolled into your water/trash bill.  We used to have these dinky little blue SPSA bins, and they updated to full-sized recycling trash-style cans a while back .  You could choose not to recycle, obviously, but you’d be paying for it anyway, and they were pretty clear about what they took as recyclables and what they didn’t take.  My folks have been recycling at home since it’s been widely available and I remember going on a field trip as a kid to the recycling plant and watching these giant sorting machines.  It even looks like my hometown even has this cute little website with tons of information about “being green.”

Lawrence is a significantly smaller town, so I get why they have a smaller operation.  The city’s website helpfully lists some information about recycling; there are recycling dumpsters in the parking lots of some of the stores (Dillons on 23rd has them) which take some things but not all recyclables, and the big Wal-Mart Community Recycling Center, while not centrally located, (but the town is tiny, so it’s not a big deal) is pretty accessible.  Ryan and I take our stuff to the Wal-Mart Community Recycling Center.  It’s nearby and takes pretty much everything, and they are pretty clear about what they won’t take.  Our IKEA bags help with our sorting.  So far, we haven’t had any real issues.

The one thing I want to complain about here is that for the non-seasoned recycler, it’s sometimes not intuitive or easy to figure out what gets recycled and what doesn’t.  It’s cool, there’s a learning curve for anything.  We are figuring this stuff out and I’m not afraid of sounding stupid.  Glass, newspaper, aluminum cans, office-pak paper; all of these things are obvious.  Cardboard, sure, but not pizza boxes, apparently—the cheese contaminates the box (yes, we Googled this before we tried to recycle one of these).  No wax-coated cardboard.  “Chip board” is sort of a confusing category: cereal boxes, cracker boxes, etc., but every now and again I’ll come across something I’m not sure will fit in this category.  Light bulbs can’t be recycled, which seems weird.  Some plastic can be recycled; a lot of it can’t, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out from looking at the container without checking the list.  So I guess my complaint here is geared toward product manufacturers.  It’d be incredibly useful to have packaging which makes it incredibly obvious that the packaging can be recycled.  Some packaging tells you it’s recyclable; a lot doesn’t.  A lot of packaging glaringly admits that it’s “MADE OF POST-CONSUMER RECYCLED MATERIAL,” which is fantastic.  Great.  But for those of us still learning, it would be helpful if we had a better system of identifying recyclables quickly.  That complaint aside, so far this is definitely one of the easier aspects of our challenge.  Committing to recycling is a small lifestyle modification that isn’t terribly time-consuming, especially if you have easy access to the recycling center.  Having to drive to the recycling center seems like one of those “damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t” kind of problems.  We’re due to make a trip here soon so I’ll take some photos and post them after we go.

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week one recap

We made it through the first week of the year, and so far I think the challenge is going pretty well.  I want to thank all of our friends for the tons of support, love, and advice they’ve given us already: we’re getting great food ideas and advice on products to check out, volunteer resources, and really positive feedback in general from most of the people we’ve talked to about the project.  Thanks also for checking out the blog; we remain excited about our adventure and we look forward to continuing our documentation here.  We’re keeping a list of topics we plan on covering in the future.  Full steam ahead!

Today I submitted my first volunteer application, to 4-H.  I hope to hear something back soon; I’ve decided to hold off on the Douglas County AIDS Project for now, at least until I get in contact with 4-H and figure out what sort of time commitment I’m looking at initially.  If I can get in with 4-H and I find myself with extra time and energy, I’ll expand my volunteering commitment.  Ryan already posted about our first recycling drop-off with our new IKEA recycling bags; I’ve got a post in the works about the challenges of recycling in Lawrence.  Tonight Ryan had his first class for UMKC this semester, and for dinner we had Palak Paneer (of the Trader Joe’s boxed variety—it’s pretty tasty, for boxed Indian food) with basmati rice and naan.  We’ve been eating pretty well and the hunger I thought I was experiencing last week seems to have abated.  I’m not really missing meat at all, which is kind of surprising.  I guess I figured that by now I’d at least crave something I couldn’t have.  I went to brunch at IHOP with some of my girlfriends on Sunday and had a brief moment of panic when almost everyone else at the table ordered bacon with their meals, but when the plates arrived I didn’t even flinch (I love bacon, for the record).  I know it’s a small victory, but it’s nice to know I can go out with friends and not be intimidated or weak if/when someone at the table orders meat.

I haven’t yet figured out what charitable organizations I plan on supporting this year.  Ryan donates monthly like a bill; I will make my donations in several chunks (either twice a year or four times, depending largely on how I decide to spend my charity budget) because it works better for me and my overall budget to do it that way.  I’m thinking of supporting one local organization and one international organization, but first I need to figure out how much money I’m going to make this year (my salary fluctuates if I decide to teach extra sections, which I am doing this spring, and I’m not sure yet how much the extra section will pay).  Locally I’m a fan of Harvesters.  Internationally, I like Médecins Sans Frontières.  I’m torn between supporting one organization or several.  I need to do some thinking and research before I decide, though, so I’ll say more about my decisions as I make them.

That’s all I’ve got for the first week recap.  Let the challenge continue!

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our first recycling trip!

Well, of the year.  Check out our sleek IKEA recycling bags!


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PS Ashley just dropped the Sunday paper into our new IKEA recycling bags.  Huzzah!


Hello.  We are Ashley and Ryan, and we are embarking on an experiment in living for 2012 that we’re calling “A Year of Living Ethically.”  We’ll write about our adventures and challenges in ethical living here.  Our next post will involve a detailed plan/outline of our project, which will begin officially on January 1, 2012.