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Suzette Porter
The luxury of recycling our trash
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I donít remember thinking much about trash as a kid. I was fortunate to have a brother and that was his job. We didnít recycle. Not many did back then.

I donít remember doing trash when in college or even after I got my first apartment. Iím sure I took it somewhere and someone hauled it away.

Trash became part of my life not long after I married for the first time. We rented a house on 100 acres well outside Fayetteville, Ark. It came with a fireplace, plenty of well water, a 100-year-old garden, and a view that just kept on giving. But no one picked up the trash.

The county provided a dumpster across the highway from a little convenience store about 10 miles away. We drove there a couple of times a month with a pickup truck filled with trash bags. The dumpster was usually overflowing.

We finally purchased a home on 10 acres a little closer to town. The well water smelled like rotten eggs. The old oak barn had no fireplaces. There was no garden and no one came for the garbage. But, it was ours and we loved it.

Funny thing, the only ďlegalĒ place to take our trash was that same little dumpster, except now it was about 20 miles away.

We began to recycle everything we could. We sold our aluminum cans at a beer distributing company. We took our paper to a place run by a nonprofit for the disabled. No one took plastic, steel cans or glass. We composted religiously, trying to turn that sticky red clay ground into soil so we could garden. We minimized our trash as much as we could. And monthly, we filled the back of the pickup and drove 20 miles to the dumpster that was usually overflowing.

Twenty-two years later, I parted ways with my first husband and moved to town. For the first time in nearly 20 years, I lived in a place where someone came and hauled away the garbage. There was a nifty little wooden rack with a row of metal garbage cans. I used them every day just because I could. Only those who have lived without could understand the luxury.

When I moved to Florida a couple of years later with my soon-to-be second husband, we lived in an apartment. Residents had to carry their trash to a dumpster on the other side of the complex. I took our trash to the dumpster most every day at first. Then I figured out when it would be full to overflowing and skipped those days.

Apartment life really wasnít our thing, so a year later we moved to a house in Belleair. The city sent around garbage trucks twice a week. I missed the luxury of being able to go to that dumpster any time I wanted. If you got busy and forgot it was trash day, you were out of luck.

Weíve lived in Largo for nearly 10 years now and bought our home a little more than three years ago. Weíve concentrated on reducing our trash by recycling and composting. It doesnít matter if we forget a trash day because we rarely have enough for two. But we almost always have three containers full of recycling, and theyíre usually overflowing.

Last week, we received our new recycling container. And itís huge. I canít tell you how excited I am.

The city of Largo is providing mixed recycling service. Theyíll be no more sorting. For us, the service starts this week.

We can start putting in glass and steel cans, and juice and milk cartons, too. You have to rinse them out just like the aluminum, but thatís no big deal. We can recycle plastic containers #1 through #7. Iím already visualizing the empty space where the stacks of kitty litter buckets in the garage are now.

We wonít have to hold the paper when it rains because the container has a lid. I do most of my work on the computer, but I still love hardcopy. Being able to get rid of most of it every week makes me giddy with joy.

Some may not appreciate the luxury. But I sure do.

Iím anxious to see if my neighbors who donít recycle now will start. It couldnít be easier.

Only those who have lived without can understand the luxury. Thank you Largo.

Suzette Porter is Internet services manager for Tampa Bay Newspapers.

Revised to correct type of plastics allowed in recyling program.
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