I’m still thinking about the differences between Canada and the States. (The fact that I say “the States,” by the way, is an indicator that I’m back in Canada, where we rarely use the preferred U.S. term, “America.”) Just now I’m considering recycling. Am I wrong to be suspicious of the fact that in California people are not asked to divide their recycling, pitching it all instead into a single bin? Who divides it up? Does anyone? Is any of it actually recycled? My guess is it’s all making its way into the same landfill as the garbage by a different route.
One reason I think this is because of a conversation I had with the fellow who runs our local (California) recycling depot. I asked him if he took wine bottles and he said: “we won’t pay you for them, since there’s no deposit on them, but we will take them.” I couldn’t get any other information out of him and was left to wonder why anyone would bring wine bottles to the depot (for no money) when they could pitch them into their own bins (for no money). The only reason I could think of is because the contents of the bin end up in landfill.
No one else I know in California makes use of the depots. When I have parties and people help me clean up, they throw the beer bottles into my recycling. This is foreign to my Canadian soul. No one in Canada, not even the richest of the rich, puts beer bottles into the common recycling.
Walking in Toronto yesterday I saw two things you don’t see in California, black squirrels and pre-divided recycling bins: glass and aluminum here, plastic here, paper here, trash here. It made me pretty smug, until I was reminded that there are unfortunate things about Canada too. Emma informed us over dinner that there is likely to be a three week garbage strike in the city of Toronto this summer, and that a cross-Ontario liquor store strike will probably begin on Wednesday. Canada is great in so many ways, but Canada is a union shop.
Being a union shop has its up-sides of course. But here is a downside. Remember how your grade three teacher used to say “pass your papers back” and then make you mark one another’s tests? And remember my own post on the virtues of peer-reviewing? Turns out this kind of thing is illegal in Canada, because it deprives union employees of work.