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Yesterday, for the first time in five years, I recycled my household trash. It’s not that I didn’t want to recycle, it’s that the city of Chicago suddenly made it harder for me to do it. A lot harder. Let me explain.
For many years as a tenant living in a small apartment building I was able to take advantage of the blue bag recycling program. Sure, it had its drawbacks like having to sort the trash and purchase special bags but these were easy obstacles to overcome. I printed out the sort chart for easy reference and posted it to the fridge. I bought blue bags in bulk and took advantage of any blue bag giveaways streets and san offered, like the grand opening of the computer and household waste recycling center. Drop off your old computer equipment, get a case of heavy duty blue bags!
But all that changed with the switch to the blue cart program. If you live on the northside of Chicago, you probably have a blue cart or two. If you live on the far southwest side or in Hyde Park, you have them too. The rest of us? Nope, still no ‘curbside’ recycling.
I live in Bridgeport, home to the Chicago Whitesox, birthplace of both Mayor Daleys. Property values in most areas are high and the neighborhood is clean and well taken care of. This is not a cars up on blocks, dealers and liquor stores on every corner kind of neighborhood, and yet we were slighted.
So a few weeks ago my nagging conscience got to me. I started setting aside all the plastics. Yesterday I checked online to find a blue recyling dumpster and found the closest at two miles away, next closest three and four miles away. I drove to the closest one, on Pershing at the water department and found it jammed solid. I was able to fit my small bag in by crunching water bottles and moving some papers in the dumpster around. I came home later and called in to the streets and san hotline that it was full. I’m generally disappointed that there isn’t a dumpster closer and that it was so jammed.
I did find out that sorting is no longer required and the range of plastics accepted now includes all but 6, much better than the old 1 and 2 only. However based on the fullness of the dumpster closest to me I think I’ll start dropping off at the Goose Island center. It’s near my work so I won’ t have to waste gas going out of my way. I just wish the city could get it together and offer blue carts to everyone, it seems discriminatory that they don’t currently.

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