When we lived in Germany 10 years ago (geesh, that makes it sound like a lifetime ago), I was pleasantly amazed at how serious residents were about recycling. Granted, I think there are laws implemented there to enforce it, but after we got over the shock of how EVERYTHING is recycled - they even compost in each neighborhood - recycling became an easy, natural way of life.
Then later we lived in Tennessee, where you have to take the recycling to the recycling centers yourself, we incorporated it into our lives and it just became part of what we did every month. The kids helped and enjoyed it.
When we found out we were moving to Hawaii, I guess I assumed that recycling would be an easy, natural way of life here, too. I mean, it's an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Since there are limited places here to store garbage, I guess I just assumed that recycling would be prevalent - no, WANTED - in order to keep the island clean.
I was sad to find out that not only is it not easy, there is practically nothing that is recycled (except bottles and cans that have deposits, which 15% of people don't even do!). There are bins at some of the public schools to take glass, plastic, and paper/cardboard, but they don't take colored or glossy paper (like magazines or grocery store ads) and the only cardboard they take is corrugated (so no cereal boxes, Capri Sun boxes or soda can boxes...)
What's the point then?
Well, I guess Hawaii has decided to make some changes. Changes that I am potentially really excited about. I don't know much about this new program, but today we are receiving blue recycle bins (the size of trash cans) for recycling. I hear the program starts during the first week of May. I don't know what will be eligible for recycling, or how often they will be collected, but I am excited that Hawaii is starting to see what recycling can do for them.
People are often surprised when they come to Hawaii and see that parts of O'ahu are really dirty, slummy, littered, and basically un-cared-for.
I hope this new program will change that.