Don't be trashy.

Photo by max-R |

Mondays are my least favourite day of the week. It’s not because I have to wake up early after a long, relaxing weekend, and it’s not even because I know there’s a full week ahead of me. I hate Mondays because it’s garbage day in Hamilton- the day lazy university students throughout my neighbourhood get to leave heaps of trash sprinkled all over their lawns for me to walk through on the way to school.

I can’t stand all the “OOPS” stickers I see on massive garbage bags when people can’t figure out how to recycle properly. Even worse, I hate seeing those bags sitting on those same lawns on my walk to school every day that same week. Seriously, people? Aren’t we taught how to recycle in elementary school? It frustrates me to no end that intelligent, capable university students can’t properly throw their junk into 4 separate bins.

A while ago, I received a pamphlet in the mail (and you probably did too if you live in Hamilton) called Be the One: Your 2011-2012 Yard waste pick up calendar. If I wasn’t psycho about waste management, I probably would have tossed it straight into the Blue Bin, but I held on to it just to take a peek.

Inside I found a few tips that I felt were worth sharing, particularly to those repeated offenders who can’t seem to figure out why they get OOPS stickers on a weekly basis:

Firstly, GREEN BINS are for food and biodegradables. You eat food, I know you do, so use them. When you scrape your plate clean, just do it into a container separate from your garbage can. By no means is it more convenient to throw things directly into the garbage than it is to throw them directly into another bin.

It’s ok to put greasy pizza boxes in there too, along with bones, fats & oils, dryer lint (NOT dryer sheets), popcorn bags, tea bags, Kleenex, as well as plates, cups, bags, and towels that are made of paper. Eight Gino’s Pizza boxes can take up a lot of room in the recycling container, so clear some space by making full use of that massive Green Bin. Any organics can go in the Green Bin and, if you think it can go in, it usually does. Remember to keep out any plastic bags, clothing, and wine corks.

Second: BLUE BINS are used for recyclables only, which is something university students in my area can’t seem to figure out. You have to separate your recyclables: paper in one bin and glass/plastics in another.

Your plastics and glass bin can hold those paper-like milk and juice containers (except juice boxes) and if you’re unsure, there’s always a recycling symbol on anything that goes in this bin, usually on the bottom of the container- Hamilton recycles numbers 1, 2, 5, and 6.

Remember to clean out your jars and bottles (a swish is fine; they don’t ask for your recycling to go through the dishwasher first), and take of all the lids. Styrofoam is something I always see piled into garbage bins and it drives me nuts! The stuff is recyclable, it says so right on the bottom! Other not-so-intuitive-recyclables include: meat trays (but not the plastic cover), bakery/fruit containers, soup boxes, and aluminum foil. Remember to keep broken glass, old CDs, mirrors, and light bulbs out of your recycling bins.

It’s almost moving time for students- a time when the one-bag limit on garbage tends to be an issue. Filling up your Blue Bins is an excellent way to clear up more space for your garbage bin, and you’re allowed to put an unlimited number of properly sorted Blue Bins at your curb on garbage day. If you need a new bin, they’re free to pick up at Hamilton’s Municipal Service Centre.

My housemates and I began taking waste disposal more seriously this year, and now, the 5 of us often only fill half our garbage can every week. The fact that our waste gets picked up so frequently should feel more like a privilege, and shouldn’t be taken for granted with lazy recycling habits.