Recycling and trash bins side by side

Recycling can at Point Dume Beach

During a recent excursion to Point Dume Beach in Malibu, I was looking for a trash can and I came across this (see photo on the left). About 30 feet away there was another can just like it, but I wondered…is this a trash can?

As you can see in the photo, it has several stickers on it that say “recycle here” and also there’s the message, “Plastics. Too valuable to waste. Recycle.” Yet, the bin wasn’t the characteristic blue color and there was no other can around for trash.

To solve the mystery, I lifted the lid and took a look inside where I discovered tons of trash. Then I read all the labels on the outside again and determined this really was a recycling bin, but since there wasn’t a trash can around it had become the garbage receptacle instead.

Why on earth would anyone place a recycling bin on the beach without a trash can? As a recycling fanatic, I’ve been very disappointed to discover over the years that many people can’t be bothered to recycle properly. And even with clear color-coded trash and recycling bins placed side by side, somehow trash always ends up in the recycling.

To be fair, in the Los Angeles area where many cities merge into one massive urban environment without clear delineations, recycling can be very confusing because each city offers different recycling options. In some cities you can recycle all plastics and in some you can’t. In some cities you can recycle Styrofoam and in others you can’t.

But to place a recycling bin on the beach without a trash can, that doesn’t make any sense. Then if people don’t throw trash in the recycling bin it will end up on the beach and ultimately in the ocean. Sigh.

What did I do? Usually in these scenarios where I can’t find a trash and/or a recycling bin I just take whatever it is home and dispose of it properly. In this case, I saw how much trash was already in the recycling bin and disgustedly threw my one dirty little Kleenex in and slammed the lid. “Argh, recycling foiled again,” said like a pirate with my fist in the air. “We must have recycling bins and trash cans side by side!”

(Note: For those of you who live in the City of Los Angeles, click here for a complete list of recyclables. Everyone else, please find a list of recyclable items on your city’s Bureau of Sanitation or Bureau of Waste Management website.)

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