Recycling in the 1st Ward – does your block need a recycling block captain?

The new Blue Cart recycling program in the 1st Ward is off to a great start. The majority of carts are being used, and most of the time as intended: They're being filled with recyclables, not garbage or yard waste.

However, there's always room for improvement. To this end, the city has asked residents who are especially excited about recycling to channel that enthusiasm into helping their neighbors get with the program. The 1st Ward has over 70 of these supporters ("Recycling Block Captains") lined up, and I'm one of them.

The suggested roles for the block captains are to answer questions, provide the city with feedback about the program, and help spread the word about future recycling-related activities, such as composting and household hazardous waste disposal.

There's no required duties or time commitment. The goal is simply to facilitate the process of neighbors communicating with their neighbors, in whatever way they want, to encourage recycling.

If you have a block captain, you may have received a postcard that introduces them to you. If you haven't been contacted, maybe your block needs a block captain. If you're interested, call (312) 744-5702 or fill out the online form at www.bluecartschicago.org.

This week I performed one block captain task, posting a yard sign provided by the city that says "Recycling pick-up this week." The idea is to put it out on the week that the trucks are coming so people know when the blue carts will be emptied. It's every other week, usually on the same day as your black cart pickup.

I also distributed my postcards; but I'm not expecting a lot of calls. The instructions on the blue carts are clear and comprehensive. But I'm looking forward to any conversations, because in my experience so far, there's been nothing but happy talk about how wonderful it is we've finally got real recycling.

—M. Isaacson