In the United States, composting is the province of the odd organic gardener. Here everyone separates out the organics: kitchen scraps, bones, wet paper-like napkins, wrapping paper, boxes, even grass clippings and leaves. Pet detritus and litter appears to be optional: It's organic, but if you have your doubts, they'll let you bag it separately. I've put hair from my brush in the organics, though I'm unsure about its chemical content.
Organics go in a green, lidded bin under the sink and eventually into a green garbage bin outside with an aerated lid, to be collected with everything else. Then gardeners who don't want to keep their own compost pile can buy organic compost from the province for much less than Wal-Mart charges.
Recyclable paper includes newspapers, magazines, corrugated cardboard, and junk mail. But you have to tear the plastic windows out of the envelopes. And people here do just that.
We didn't have trouble keeping organics and paper straight, but things got more complicated when we had to separate true garbage from the recyclables that go in a blue bag. For instance, milk cartons and tin cans are recyclables; whereas chip bags and Styrofoam are true garbage. It does give you a clear sense of what's worst for the planet.
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