He stands looking unfocused, head down yet not comprehending the words.  Befuddled, sweat beads on his upper lip. His eyes glaze over, shifting from one sign to the next.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

Shaky hands fumble to distinguish plastic from paper from foil. What to do???

A fog of desperation descends upon him as unwilling to break the code of ignorance and fearing to ask for help, he bolts, opting for the “no look” pass into the wrong bin…again. Oh, the humanity!

Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind.

But, it’s a landscape of ignorance about recycling and composting that inhibits his efforts to do the right thing. The complexity of what is compostable, vs. its first cousin biodegradable, could be routine as it is in other parts of the country, helped by municipal support.

Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

What’s stumping those who wish to be more environmentally involved? It’s not knowing what is or is not trash, recyclable or for that matter, compostable. After all, he knows trash. It’s really not his fault. It is both complex and confusing, clouded by products e.g., “to go” containers that are not tested and certified as recyclable or compostable.

The lyrics of Sign by the Five Man Electric Band seem apropos since most of my time spent at the market has been getting people, especially men, to read.

Now, hey you, mister, can't you read?

But, that’s why we are here. Our simple color scheme system helps identify what goes into which bin.

Green = Compostables: food, soiled paper (including straws), dining ware, paper cups, certified utensils and wooden toothpicks

Blue = Recyclables: Plastics #1-6, glass, metal, aluminum foil, paper, cardboard

Black = Trash: Styrofoam, dirty aluminum foil, plastic straws and wrap, waxed paper

But, let’s ask for help from vendors and distributers of  “to go” containers, cups, etc., everywhere, not just here at the market…

“Are your “to go” supplies recyclable or compostable?”

If they answer no to either, you will have to decide…

when they passed around the plate at the end of it all
I didn't have a penny to pay.

Do you get the pun and point? They will only change if you ask them to.

Greg F. Walton
Green with Indy, LLC
Curbside Food and Compostable Waste Haulers
Serving Central Indiana Since 2009

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Compost, What…Why?
An overview about introducing composting at farmers markets.

Apr 19, 2017

GWi Food waste signage.jpg