For our first 39 years in this house, only one garbage service was available. They offered 1-, 2-, and 4-can service, and you had to supply your own cans. Recycling was not part of the deal.
In recent years I started taking my recycling, as well as recycling from my son and his family, to a single-stream recycling center 25 miles away. I could have brought it to a township 5 miles away, but that would have meant separating everything: different metals, different colored glass, etc. And I'd have to bundle the newspapers with twine and probably do other things I've forgotten. Plus only one kind of plastic was acceptable. They were very picky.
It always bothered me that recycling wasn't made more convenient for people. I feel strongly about plastic in particular. With the typical "out of sight, out of mind" mentality, we've been filling up our oceans with plastic (among other things), and marine life is suffering the consequences. So are we, probably. And yet people in my rural area had to make an effort if they wanted to recycle. That was okay, but there were so many people unwilling to make the effort. We needed to make recycling easy (or mandatory) so everyone would do it.
This year I learned that single-stream pick-up had become available on my road. The service provides two very sturdy rolling receptacles, one for trash and one for recycling, and everything can go in the recycling bin, from cardboard and junk mail to plastics of all kinds. The monthly fee was $1 less than the non-recycling service. Still, judging by the trash cans I see alongside the road, most residents still use the non-recycling service.
Before I signed up for recycling pickup, I called the non-recycling service to make sure I hadn't misunderstood what they offered.
"Do you pick up recycling?" I asked.
"Yes, we do."
"You do?" I was surprised, to say the least. "Where do I put it?"
"You put it in the cans with your regular garbage."
"I do?" I was starting to feel a little slow on the uptake.
"Yes, it all goes together," she said.
"Then how do you separate it?"
"Oh, we don't," she said. "We put it all in the landfill."