Monday, April 22, 2013

More Truth in Recycling NYC: Can You Handle It?

For Earth Day, I decided to further my quest for truth in recycling, this time taking a cold, hard look at my own numbers: How do I measure up when it comes to my own recycling habits?  (See "Truth in Recycling NYC" for the stats on how well we’re recycling citywide).

I continue to learn I’m not nearly as green as I think I am.

My first stop was the “Measure Your Impact at Home” interactive page at the DSNY Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling’s WasteLe$$ website. Here you can see what the outcome would be if everyone acted like you.

Example: How many times a week do you use a paper towel? I entered a

conservative 7. Then select your borough, and watch it add up: If everyone in Manhattan used one paper towel a day, we’d be discarding 5,945 tons of them a year. You can perform the same calculations on other common household items, from newspapers to razors and light bulbs.

I could hardly bear more enlightenment after being shamed into hiding my unused roll of Bounty in the back of a closet, but the optimist in me thought I might fare better on the “Rate Yourself on Waste Prevention at Home” quiz. Even as I was clicking through the options (Always, Sometimes or Never) for each question (How often do you… Donate clothing to a charity, or buy or sell second-hand items? Use rechargeable batteries? Mix chlorine bleach and ammonia to clean a really dirty stain? etc.), I thought I had it licked.

My score: a dismal 45 out of 100. And I donate old clothes, use rechargeable

batteries, try to take my own shopping bags to the store, and receive few catalogs and magazines (all of which I recycle). And yet, by BWPRR’s standards, “Waste prevention isn’t part of [my] life, yet.” OK, no more paper towels! Someone’s gonna find that unused roll of Bounty when they carry me out of here.

Can you handle the truth about your own shade of green? Take the tests and tweet @MsManhattan your results. Meanwhile, visit the Dial 311 page for more recycling truth and resources.

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