I have been using Santa Cruz County (CA) Recycles’ curbside recycling program for a little less than a year now, and am really impressed with all of the different products the program accepts. In my experience, the Santa Cruz area has proved to be very environmentally conscious, and this can be shown through all of the curbside recycling options offered to its residents. However, like every other program, there are ways Santa Cruz’s curbside program can improve. curbside-recyclingPlastic bags have been banned from stores in Santa Cruz County for about a year now, yet they are still piled up around my house from beforehand or from other sources. Many plastic items are accepted in the program, and since the ban, several kinds of plastic bags are now recyclable at the curb. As well, plastic bags are really easy to reuse many times — I use them to carry lunches or other suitable items, but they still have been a nuisance to keep around and store at times since the ban. Since they cause pollution and damage the oceans, I’m so thankful that Santa Cruz has done something about them in the local recycling program. One aspect of my curbside recycling program that is frustrating at times is how the garbage cart is about half the size of the recycling and yard waste carts. I live with several roommates, and I have found that more space for everyday waste is necessary when the time comes to roll the carts out to the street. Unfortunately, our garbage never fits inside the cart. Although the program allows us to leave extra garbage bags next to the cart, this method does not always the best solution, as bits of trash sometimes line the streets following collection day. I believe increasing the size of the carts, although it may be pricey, may end up beneficial in the long run. Despite the aspects of the curbside program I am critical of, Santa Cruz County Recycles’ curbside recycling has proven to be very beneficial since it does accept many items that are difficult to get rid of. One example is how the program accepts used batteries when they are set on top of the recycling cart. The program also takes e-waste items with a scheduled pick-up appointment and will take bulky items, such as couches and refrigerators, for a small fee. This is really helpful when big or small items pile up at home and you want nothing more than to get rid of them in an environmentally responsible way. I really enjoy being in an area that is so conscious about the environment — so much so that it’s easy to take my curbside program for granted. I am looking forward to see how the program grows even more in the future.