Steady As She Goes
Despite living in the land of steady habits, we have proven ourselves adaptable to change.
Though we dug in our heels about switching from readily provided plastic bags to reusable shopping bags not even a year ago, within a few weeks we barely thought about it when hauling cloth bags into a business. Of course, COVID-19 put the brakes on reusable bags for weeks, only recently being encouraged again as the virus abates in Connecticut.
When information bounced back and forth early this spring about the general population needing face masks as opposed to being essential only for healthcare workers, we stopped to examine the evidence presented. When it became clear that masks are a top defense in not spreading the novel coronavirus to others, we stepped up. Now, to see a person in a public space without a mask is head-turning.
So what’s next? Glass recycling. As of July 1, the Housatonic Resources Recovery Authority, which is our regional municipal solid waste and recycling management association including Newtown, is asking residents to change recycling practices.
Glass is no longer welcome in single stream recycling, as it is adding costs and waste to what we thought was an environmentally responsible habit. Broken glass contaminates a whole load of recycling, making it unusable for intended purposes. So much of the carefully collected recyclable materials placed in our recycling bins may never actually end up recycled into a new product if comingled with glass pieces.
Extracting glass pieces from other recyclable materials as it is sorted is costly and is often itself cross-contaminated, meaning that our discarded glass might never reemerge as a new bottle.
When single-stream recycling was introduced, that was simple. It is so easy to place everything in one bin and wave goodbye to it as the truck picks it up and dumps it all together.
Oh, our first world problems of time spent separating our trash. Let’s throw caution to the wind and embrace this new habit swiftly, not only to save costs related to transferring loads that cannot be repurposed properly, but so that our efforts to reduce, reuse, and recyle are not futile.
Glass bottles and jars can be brought to our transfer station on Ethan Allen Road. A glass-only bin will be in place there, and that glass will be processed separately and, we hope, be reincarnated as another item. There is no fee for dropping off glass to the container at the transfer station, and detailed information on glass recycling is found at hrra.org.
Needless to say, we have had to accept changes at every level of work and play, some more readily than others, thanks to COVID-19, and we have done so.
When the town expedites plans for curbside glass pickup or another option for those unable to get to the transfer station with recyclable bottles and jars, it will set us up for success.
Meanwhile, with only a little forethought, we can add separating glass to our list of steady habits.