(Editor’s note: Be on the lookout for the latest print edition of Big Island Chronicle circulating this week. In the edition is a four-page recycling guide prepared by Recycle Hawaii in preparation for Earth Day.)
By Kristine Kubat
Chances are, as a reader of “Waste Not,” you already subscribe to the zero waste philosophy. In which case you may very well have already participated in a “zero waste” event and perhaps even manned a sort station or two in your personal quest to be the change you want to see in the trash bin. Good for you (on either or both counts). Now how about organizing a zero waste event, workspace or home all of your own?
It’s not hard. All it takes is some determination. . . and maybe some gloves, depending on the volume and pace of discards you’re up against. The key to success is understanding what’s in your waste stream and what resources are at your disposal. First step, take an inventory of what kind of discards will be generated at your event or work or living space. Second step, figure out where you can send those discards to turn them into resources (as opposed to trash). Most times you will be gathering box board, cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, metal (including aluminum foil), food scraps and some plastic/foil/ paper things that defy the previous categories. Anything clean made solely with paper fibers is easy to recycle and can go to the mixed recycling bin at the county transfer stations. Same goes for clean metal and glass. The plastic is a bit more tricky. Check the resin ID code on whatever you collect and send the numbers 1,2, 4 and 5 to the mixed recycling bin; take the number 6 (including clean Styrofoam) to Mr. K’s on Kinoole Street in Hilo. While the county doesn’t list #4 plastic on their placards by the bins, this is the stuff that plastic bags are made of and they do take it. As for the stuff that’s not clean, paper contaminated with food scraps gets composted along with the food scraps. The rest just has to get rinsed and processed as described above, except for the plastic/foil/paper things, which, sorry to say, have to get tossed in the landfill. . . unless you decide to do yourself and the planet a favor by giving up on the stuff that comes in non-recyclable packaging.
Enjoy the Hawaii Island Recycling Guide insert in this edition of Big Island Chronicle, gearing you up for Earth Day on April 22. The Hawaii Island Recycling Guide is chock full of latest information on how to process your discards. (Remember, there’s no such thing as trash in the beautiful land where we come from!).
(Kristine Kubat is a former Big Island Weekly editor who now works for Recycle Hawaii.)