Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recycling at Park Slope Food Coop, Part II: Delivery

Getting There

Sunday morning I called the coop to find out if recycling was still happening--it was.

Earlier in the week, I'd gotten directions from Google Maps: change at W. 4th, take B train to 7th Ave. , then walk to Union Street. Saturday I'd checked the MTA web site for possible service changes on the B line--there weren't any.

I figured an hour would be way more than enough time to get there. Aiming to arrive by 1:45--which the coop requires to allow time for inspection of recyclables--I left at 12:45.

Waiting for my first train in the 8th Ave. station, I checked the legend at the bottom of the subway map to see how often the B runs on a Sunday, and got an unpleasant surprise--it doesn't run. No wonder there weren't any service changes.

The MTA's recommended alternatives were the D and the A, both a much greater distance from the coop. Suddenly my diminishing hour felt a lot shorter--would I end up missing the deadline and lugging my bag back in the heat?

A few panicky minutes later, I was on a train, checking the map again, trying to figure out what to do.

"Where are you going?" asked an elderly man.

"The Park Slope food coop," I said and explained my predicament.

He took in my bag. "Want my advice?"

"Sure," I said.

"Leave that on the train, and forget about it."

I decided to try the F train--it goes to the other end of Park Slope, but I'm a fast walker--then learned I could take the D to Pacific and change to the Q, which goes to 7th Avenue.

The D was fast and fun, with some unusual onboard entertainment--a guy skillfully miming, first boxing, then music playing and singing. If my Spanish were better, I might have figured out which fighters and musicians he was imitating.

At Pacific, I asked someone about the frequency of the Q, and with 20 minutes to spare, decided I'd be better off hoofing it.

Steamy though the day was, the walk wasn't bad, and I arrived with ten minutes or so to spare.

The Process

There were several people stationed on the sidewalk outside the coop to receive plastic recyclables. When I arrived, the lines were short, so the process went quickly.

First I handed one of the collectors my bag of #5s--these get screened individually by hand and must be free of labels. I noticed a woman at an adjacent table cutting labels off with an exacto knife.

Here I overheard something that isn't on the coop's website: they will take sturdy plastic containers used for heating and serving meals, even if they're the wrong number, to give to a homeless shelter. But they only collect these till they've filled a particular container, so if you want to bring any, come early.

On the other side of the table, a woman was collecting transparent #1 containers in a clear plastic bag even bigger than mine. I knew I'd brought a lot of these, but was amazed to see how many came out once I started dumping.

Finally, my bag was empty. I handed some transparent plastic wrap to a guy who was collecting that; he rejected a stiff circular piece--the only thing they didn't take.

Feeling lighthearted--almost giddy--but still sweating, I walked away.

Your next chance to recycle will be Saturday, August 8, 10 am-2 pm. You'll save time if you presort your stuff.

For requirements and other information, see

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