Here they are: my bins.
I went through a lot to get them. After a few weeks of being moved in to my new apartment, I noticed someone in my building taking their blue bins to the curb every Thursday night. Where did you get them? I ask. Fire station, they told me. So I go to the fire station - an easy walk as it's a few blocks away. Nope, they say. You have to call 311 now. They're no longer distributing. So I get home and call. They'll drop them off this coming Friday or the next. Great!
Friday comes and goes. And another. I call back. HRM, that's odd, they say. We'll put in another order. Friday comes and goes. And another. I call AGAIN. This time I'm told I'm not going to get a blue bin because the city doesn't pick up my trash (we have a dumpster). Therefore they're not responsible for my recycling either. Well my neighbors have bins, I say. They get emptied out every Friday. So clearly, they do pick up our recycling. So can I have a bin? No.
Fine. Undaunted, I post an ad on craigslist. Under [items wanted]:
small, blue City of Austin recycling bin
Do you have an extra recycling bin you're not using? I've been requesting one from the City of Austin for weeks now (you can't pick them up at fire stations anymore - you have to call 311 to request it) and they won't give me one. I'm desperate to recycle (no really) and I think one little blue bin would do me.
I'd come pick it up and I'd even pay you for it (although hopefully not much, as these are supposed to be free and I'm doing this out of my desire to help the earth and stuff).
Within hours, I have several emails in my inbox. One of which suggests I go pick one up at a fire station. Um, did you read the posting? Another offers two bins, free, and he lives just 5 minutes away. I call and arrange to pick them up the next day. You don't need them? I ask. Nah, the city puts all these "rules" on recycling. I'm tired of playing their games. I'm just not going to recycle anymore. You can have them, he says.
I bring them home and start stockpiling my recycling. Thursday evening rolls around, and I visit the City of Austin recycling website to make sure I have the right plastics in there and it's sorted correctly and such. Only to find out that 75 percent of the stuff I'd set aside can't be recycled. For such a "green," hippy-dippy city, Austin's current recycling program sucks. The only paper they take is newspapers - no cereal boxes, paper milk cartons, or anything of the sort. Only plastics with 1 or 2 on the bottom (that's a no for those yogurt containers and a lot of other plastics).
Was I really that spoiled with New York's recycling program, which seemed to take everything? (And that's including the city's natural method of recycling for furniture and electrics known as your neighbors.) If sorted correctly, just about anything placed on the curb, went. But here, not so much. Now I understand why that guy was so bitter.
The good news is, starting this fall, they have a new program that will allow for cereal boxes and plastics 1 thru 7. Suddenly we can recycle so much, but now they'll only be coming 'round to pick it up once every two weeks. To make up for that, they're distributing giant recycling bins for everyone to use in place of the small blue ones. What do you think the odds are I'll get one?
All this grief, and I'm just trying to be a good citizen. That's the part that irks me the most. Thanks City of Austin!
PS - Has anyone else been obsessed with golf the last three days? I miss going to golf tournaments so much. They're way more exciting in person (hard to believe, I know).