Moving to a new place is exciting. There’s an entirely new community of people to meet, places to visit and things to see. But then there are the other things, too — the “taking care of business” kind of stuff that you need to worry about.
Such as recycling.
When I was a child, I would ride with my dad and my sister to the dump.
The transfer station was a one-stop deal. We could weigh up our trash, pay for and dispose of it, then take a short jaunt through the recycling area, where we would drop our recyclables (sorted, of course) into different chutes where workers would take care of the rest.
My dad always made these trips enjoyable. The ride there he would sing “to the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump,” and my sister and I would sing along. He would let us throw stuff into the chutes, and our curiosity piqued as our recyclables vanished into bins behind the wall. Sometimes we would spot disembodied hands floating around, emptying the containers. He would bring us around to meet the workers, and we would watch from a distance as they completed their duties. He helped make learning about recycling fun. And helped us learn about sustainability in the process.
My family has always recycled. So when I moved I kept doing it. At the University of Maine, we had zero-sort containers, where students could drop their stuff and continue on with their day. The zero-sort option took the hassle out of the process — it took away the process altogether, really.
But then I moved to Bangor, and I wondered what to do. I didn’t have a nifty little zero-sort recycling bin I could dump in a specified place. I didn’t even know what day the trash was collected. Did Bangor have a transfer station? A dump? Of course it did, I thought to myself.
So where was it? Where was all this stuff supposed to go?
I wished I had received a “Welcome to Bangor!” packet in the mail when considering this particular question. I like to have things laid out for me in a simple, readable format that I can stow away and dig back out if the occasion demands it.
There are plenty of questions that are important to have answered when moving to a new place. For example: What day is my trash picked up? How do I recycle? Where is City Hall? Where in City Hall do I go to get my car/boat/trailer registered? When and where is the next public meeting? Who are my local officials? What are the local bus routes? Is there a bus pickup location close to me? The list could go on and on.
I’m the kind of person who likes to have something in hand, but I quickly realized that all these questions probably could be answered at the City of Bangor website. My assumption was correct.
I quickly found instructions about how to recycle and even a map that told me what day my recyclables would be picked up — Thursday for my neighborhood.
“Zero-Sort curbside recycling collection is provided to all residents of single family homes and apartment buildings with 4 or fewer units on a bi-weekly schedule on the same day as the rubbish collection day,” the website told me. I lived in an apartment building with four units, so I assumed I was included in that list. This is the off week for recycling, according to a calendar on the website.
The website provided me with a helpful list of things that are included in zero-sort recycling, such as aluminum, metal cans, envelopes and opened mail, magazines and newspapers and much more. And it told me how to recycle — the main question I sought to answer.
Acceptable containers include blue bins (the old ones public works used to distribute that are no longer available), clear plastic bags or your own container with a sticker, the website read.
The container and sticker option seemed to be my best bet, so I stopped by the City of Bangor Public Works facility at 530 Maine Ave. and picked up a couple of them for free. I asked the employees there if my residence would be included in pick-up locations. The website told me that apartment buildings with four units or less were included, but the employees thought that number might be three units or less.
I’ll admit that until I picked up this sticker, I hadn’t been recycling anything except bottles, which I took to a local redemption center. Next week will be the first time I try it out, so I guess I’ll know soon if someone does stop at my building.
If that fails, the dropoff location — which is open 24/7 — is about seven minutes away from where I live, so that’s another option.
The mystery and intrigue of the transfer station is gone for me now, but I’ll continue a practice my parents taught me to exercise many years ago.