Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - Glass & Metal

This is my third post in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle series. I have previously covered plastics and paper & cardboard. Today I will focus on glass and metal. I am combining the two materials into a single post because they are the last of the traditional recyclables to discuss, and there isn't as much to say about them as about the previously covered materials.


Our glass waste is made up almost entirely of bottles and jars that food and beverages were purchased in. This is a very small category for us. I didn't have any glass the last time I took our the recycling, and I just checked and I don't see anything in the bin right now, although there could be a piece or two buried near the bottom that I'm overlooking.

Reduce - Since we do not generate very much glass waste, reduction isn't a big priority. Of course, though, there is always room for improvement. Unfortunately for most of the products that come in glass containers the only alternative is plastic, which is certainly less desirable than glass.

Reuse - Much of the glass waste that we do have ends up being reused. In the past this has been especially true for larger containers, such as pickle jars. I suspect that as Andrea begins experimenting more with making tinctures she will begin reusing more of the differently sized/shaped bottles, as well, such as those that soy sauce comes in.

Recycle - The glass that we don't use is always recycled. This is mostly bottles, such as those that essential oils come in, although those might soon get used for tinctures as well. Unlike many other materials, there isn't much room for uncertainty about whether or not a particular glass item can be recycled. For the most part, glass is glass, and all glass should be recycled if not being reused.


The overwhelming majority of our metal waste is in the form of cat food cans. We also have the occasional soda can, and a few cans that food such as chicken broth or chili came in, but those are definitely the minority. I've also been recycling other types of metal lately, especially pieces of old wire fencing that at one time apparently almost entirely surrounded this property.

Reduce - Not only are the cat food cans the biggest source of our metal waste, but they also represent the biggest opportunity for reduction. Andrea use to make homemade cat food, but hasn't done so for quite some time. She plans to begin doing that again, which will make a big dent in the amount of metal waste that we accumulate. The homemade cat food is also more healthy for Kitty, and, as I recall, costs about the same to make as we pay for a can of her current food.

Reuse - Off the top of my head I can't think of any metal waste that we reuse. Some types of metal containers are very useful, we just don't have any of these. Coffee cans are a great example of this. My Dad has dozens of coffee cans on shelves in his garage filled with various screws and other hardware. Since we do not drink coffee, however, we have none of these. I've actually considered asking my Dad to save me a few coffee cans if he's stopped saving them for himself.

Recycle - Metal is a material that I'm certain we can increase the amount that we take to be recycled. While we've been recycling metals cans for years, it was only very recently that I realized we could recycle other types of metal. I knew all metal was recyclable, but didn't realize that the recycling center would accept old fencing and similar materials. At this point I'm still not entirely sure about what they will and will not accept. Based on the items that I see in the bin, it would appear that they accept anything containing even small amounts of metal, such as computers, appliances, tvs, etc. I'm not convinced, however, that everything that gets thrown into that bin meets the recycling centers definition of recyclable metal. It seems that some people use it almost like a garbage bin. I need to find out if they have specific guidelines on what can and cannot be placed in the metal bin, so that I feel better about increasing some of the items that we take there.


  1. If we aren't recycling then we're doing it wrong- this Earth cannot self sustain if we're sucking it of its resources. I wish we could unify for saving the planet.

    -Land Source Container Service, Inc.
    City Container Services

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