Managing my trash: How much do I recycle?

Managing my trash: How much do I recycle?

I admit to having never taken it upon myself to recycle when I'm at home. My only excuse (and I realize even this isn't a good one) is that I was too lazy to bring it to the city's dropoff center.

But if you live in an apartment complex, there's no doubt that by now you've seen the blue recycling carts the city has delivered to the properties. I have one just a few steps from my door, and the first recycling pickups start next week.

I might as well start recycling -- I'll be paying for it via my rent -- but I'd first like to know how much trash I'm actually diverting away from the landfill.

Now, this experiment is by no means designed to produce scientific results, nor would I expect anyone else to produce similar results if they followed the same procedure. But I imagine that my roommate and I are pretty average as far as the amount of trash that we, until now, have been throwing in the Dumpster, and I'd like to get an idea of what I'm really throwing away.

Next week I plan on weighing my trash (how much goes into the recycling bins versus how much goes in the Dumpster), and I'll let you know what I find out. The city expects that the new multifamily recycling program will divert 2,600 tons of refuse from the landfill each year.

When I have my results, I'll do some number crunching to see where my roommate and I are at.

But, like I said, one week's worth of trash from one apartment is a far stretch from giving us accurate results. So I'm hoping some of my readers can agree to weigh their trash for me at the end of a one-week period. If you can, please e-mail me ( or send me a message on Twitter. All it takes would be you standing on a scale with your bag(s) of trash before you take it outside.

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Meg Dickinson wrote on November 26, 2010 at 3:11 pm
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I don't own a scale, so I can't help you. However, I will say that my recycling to garbage ratio is usually 2:1, at least.

DenaS wrote on November 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Me too - I don't know about weight, but by volume I've got 2x-4x as much recycling as I do trash. Of course, I recycle just about everything I can -- glass, plastic, paper, cans, cardboard, batteries, etc.