Recently, I helped clean up a wedding reception for a family member out-of-state and I instinctly gathered the Martenalis bottles that had been placed on the center of each table in the gym together.  As someone else started to throw them into the trash, they looked at me with shock when I said to stop while I went and got the recycling bin.  The church building simply didn’t have one.  I was curiously asked if my church building did …

I realized that the difference was the product of the availability of curb side recyling service.  However, it was an even more foriegn concept when I suggested to take the bottles to a recycling center – apparently the Walmart was the only option for limited recycling.  (I did manage to succeed at this though).

I live in an area with incredibly good recycling services.  I have more recycling bins in my house than trash cans.  Our curbside service picks up bottles, aluminums, several types of plastic, and cardboard, and there is a center where I can go to dispose of batteries, other metals, and even electronics and other items.  However, it really hit me what good does it do to worry about recycling my yogurt cup if other parts of the country don’t recycle the basics – glass and aluminum.

I was pleased though that my comments at the wedding made a small difference the day off as well as  impacted my otherwise conservative sister, who is young women’s president and lives in a pretty rural area on the other side of the country, to make a point to haul any recyclable items from mutual activities to her local recycling center.

So I am just curious to see what everyone’s experiences here with recycling are …  Does your church building have a recycling bin? Does your community have recycling centers? If not, how do (or do) you promote recycling at church?


  1. Our building in southern CA does not have recycling. But when my husband asked about it, he was told that the city hauls away all the trash and separates it at their facility.

    One thing our ward does do is collect used print cartridges. These are turned in for $ and that $ pays for the paper needs of the ward. We’ve also had various drives for used items like eyeglasses which are shipped to other parts of the world to those who need them.

    These are good questions to ask, Kelly Ann. I’m curious to know if any building recycles…

    • Caroline, that is really cool that your ward collects ink cartridges and glasses. I’m also impressed your city sorts. However, it still seems more effective to pre-sort so to speak.

  2. Great question! I could imagine that being a great YW/Eagle Scout project–to make it happen if it isn’t. I know there are no recycling bins in my building.

    • Rachel, I totally agree. As it seems most building don’t do it, to spare an adult from having to, starting something would be a great YW/Eagle project. I think all the youth should be encouraged to help the environment.

  3. Our building doesn’t have bins either, and I really really wish it did. It would seem like such a simple, no-brainer of a thing for a ward building. This past week we had a lovely RS luncheon and probably 50 little clear 4-ounce plastic water bottles went into the trash. I shoulda volunteered to take them home, since I have curbside recycling… *kicks self, gently*

  4. sorry about the end of that comment, I didn’t mean to “place an ad” that wasn’t part of the discussion. The comment connected to our Twitter feed. Anyway. Back to recycling.

    • Thanks Jeans. To be fair, it is not just the church which could use more recycling. I think a lot of public entities could do better. Even around here, it has taken a long time for stores and parks to adopt recycling bins. I think it is easy for people to treat their actions away from home differently. But it also pleased me on another recent trip to see airports adopting recycling bins. We are slowly becoming like the Canadians, with whom I have always been impressed at their public recycling options.

  5. Great thing to be aware of. I’m sure ours doesn’t but there’s no reason we can’t. Of course, they don’t recycle glass yet in Idaho, which really frustrates me, so we re-use as much in that area that we can. I think teaching the youth all the ways that they can care for the planet by re-using, recycling, and conserving is a highly appropriate church topic. I hope I get a chance at some point to influence that.

    • Are you aware that you can take your glass to one of several places to recycle your glass? I live in Boise, and I know it’s a bit of a hassle that they don’t pick it up curbside, but we don’t end up with that many glass containers anyway, so I have a little plastic bin in our garage for glass and when it fills up every 5 months or so, I take it to a firestation that has a bin for glass recycling in front of it.

  6. Recycling is an integral part of the new LEED certified buildings. At least three of those buildings are now in use (Farmington & Lehi in Utah and another in Arizona). We don’t have curbside recycling here in Montana and we have no bins at church. However, that would be an easy enough thing to do at a local level if someone were willing to take on the job of organizing it.
    I have never lived where there is curbside recycling, but we have taken it to recycling centers ourselves for more than twenty years. It’s a habit that I’m happy to see my children doing in their homes as well.

    • CatherineWO, thanks for mentioning the LEED buildings. I forgot about them. This gives me hope that maybe the church could encourage recycling as a whole … Like I commented early, a sweep of eagle/ young woman projects could do the trick, although putting it under the building manager’s calling would also make sense. I am also impressed to hear how dedicated you and your family are to recycling.

  7. Our church building is in a nearby town that offers recycling at a recycling center, so someone in that town needs to provide their own multiple bins (each type of item must be separated out) and transportation to that center. Deciding whether or not to purchase such bins and do such transportation would be at the discretion of the agent bishop, most likely at the prompting of a ward’s physical facilities manager who had a vehicle that is capacious enough to transport said bins once they were purchased by the ward budget or had the wherewithal to orchestrate that with other members. Our ward does not do recycling, probably because no one specifically feels like it’s in their job description and doesn’t want to step on someone else’s toes whose it might be. Not a good excuse, but likely the reason.

    I assist in church recycling by collecting bottles and cans left over from ward functions and taking them home to my town for recycling. However, I do not go through the wastebaskets to gather paper for recycling. That can be pretty germy.

    Do I want to be that person who grabs the bull by the horns and offers to manage the work necessary to instigate a ward recycling program? It would require a fair amount of work and commuting and orienting the members to how it would work and it would be a long, long-term commitment in my ward. I think it would be welcomed. I’ll have to think about that.

    For me it’s always easier to be sad about the lack of a program or disappointed that someone else in the organization hasn’t already instigated it, or to do, just piece-meal, what I can when I’m on-site, than it is to take the initiative to get said program up and running and keep it going.

    • MB, I totally agree. It is always easier to see the problem than do something about it. But I think even when people do the small things as described in this thread that it matters. And I also agree that there is a fine line about digging through the trash 😉

  8. Our building does not have recycling. Our apartment complex does not have recycling. I don’t think the town provides any recycling services. However, one of the organizations that serves people with disabilities will take certain types of paper, and Type 1 and 2 plastic at an elementary school. There is no household metal or glass recycling. Sometimes the deep south makes me sad.

    • HokieKate, very true, but at least you have something. It is a start. It does always amaze me though how different parts of the country are.

  9. Our building in Baltimore does not recycle, but the city and county do have curbside pick up and you don’t even need to sort. It is a shame we are not recycling.

    However, I have been known to collect plastics and glass at the end of activities to take home to recycle; because it kills me to throw that stuff away when it can easily be recycled.

    • Sandra, if that is the case, would it be possible for the church to get a can? In my experience, it doesn’t cost extra. At least out here, recycling is the rage in part because the city makes money off it (through the CA redemptive cost).

  10. I’m like Sandra. I was in YW for over 5 years and I would do my best to take home boxes, plastic bottles, etc., to recycle. It’s frightening to see how much stuff is thrown away at a ward party with all the paper plates, plastic silverware, cups, napkins, etc. It’s so wasteful and I really think it does go against who we should be as members of the Church. My question is, why aren’t the dishes in the church kitchen utilized more often? Several times at YW activities we would pull out the plates, bowls, glasses. If we had a few of the YW and a leader or two help out with washing the dishes at the end, it really wasn’t a big deal. And it saves money for the ward.

    • Sijbrich, I think so many people use paper plates because of the practicality issue. It is a hard balance. For an entire ward activity, I wouldn’t feel as bad as if it is a smaller activity that could be easily washed. But it comes down to having to plan and think about it.

      Again, I am impressed with yours, Sandra’s, and everyone else’s efforts to do something, even if small.

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