The Green Goddess - Changing the World One Shopper at a Time

Well it turns out you are listening, Central Market, and the goddess is not the only one who has had some concerns about your almost nonexistent recycling efforts. According to an anonymous CM source, several customers have been on H-E-B’s case. After “A Love-Hate-Love Story” appeared in the Current’s August 30 issue, CM finally put out recycling cans in the dine-in area. According to Deep Throat, new and improved recycling plans were in the works for about six weeks. Does that mean CM didn’t change their ways because of my incredibly well-written article? The important thing is that the seeds of change have been planted, but I have to wonder: Why did it take so long?

Deep Throat admits that providing dine-in customers a place to recycle has been low on the $60-million company’s list of priorities, but in all fairness Central Market, you are not alone. In today’s fast-paced consumer climate we are in such a hurry to get to the store to buy the thing, use the thing, and toss out the thing that we don’t care what happens after it leaves our hands. Out of sight, out of mind. CM and other retailers are just responding to our lifestyles, but that doesn’t excuse the retailers or the consumers from doing the right thing. Sadly, it seems that most San Antonians are clueless about how to recycle properly. So the Goddess, who is equally perplexed, has done a little research.

I use the word “research” loosely, because finding out exactly what is recyclable in San Antonio was more like the hunt for a hot date on a Friday night. I know our fair city offers recycling services, but I had a hard time finding anyone at the Solid Waste Department that could point me in the right direction. Everyone I spoke with agreed that newspaper and glass could be recycled, but plastics were a puzzle. I was directed to the official website of the City of San Antonio Environmental Services, where a recycling list came up — eureka! — but, alas, it was not very informative about plastics.

FYI: Most plastics have a recycling symbol and a number code from 1-7, but the website only listed types 1 and 2. Today plastic makes up almost 11.3 percent of the 240 million tons of trash produced annually. Certainly a city with a population of more than a million waste-producers must have the capability to recycle all kinds of plastic.

With this statistic burning in my brain I had to dig further, and after a few more dead ends I finally got in touch with Francisco Martinez at the Department of Environmental Services, who was more than willing to help me in my quest. Frankie Baby (as he is now known) called Dean Gorby, general manager at Vista Fibers, which sorts through the majority of our recyclables, bundles them, and ships them out to plants that reconstitute it into material that can be re-used for more crap. Dean told me that Vista can handle plastics 1-7, and clarified a bunch of other recycling concerns. Hmmm … I wonder if Dean’s available on Friday night?

Last week, City Council approved a new five-year garbage-collection program that will also upgrade the city’s recycling capabilities with automated bins and trucks (Cool!). But when I asked Gwen Schuler at the Public Information Office about accompanying educational or outreach programs she said that the details hadn’t been ironed out yet. Well, we got our new big trucks anyway, and we all know how much Texans love their trucks.

There is a lot of information about recycling and at the end of the day my head was spinning, but I suppose the weariness I felt beats having to wear a gas mask and a biohazard suit, which would so clash with everything.

Happy shopping.
— G.G

Send your environmental puzzles and tips to [email protected]


The Green Goddess is not just about bitching; I am about action. I have compiled a useful list of what can be recycled in SA (Hint: Cut it out and put it on your fridge). Recycling is picked up once a week, but not on holidays. Request a bin at 311.

Newspapers and supplements
Glossy ads, junk mail, post cards, paper shopping bags, and any other tearable paper including cardboard*. Bundle the paper, keep it dry, and flatten cardboard boxes.

Glass jars and bottles
All glass may be recycled as long as it is not leaded or tempered glass. Remove all bottle caps and jar lids (caps are recyclable but are problematic for the sorting machines if not removed) and rinse containers if necessary. No drinking glasses, window glass, crystal, light bulbs, cookware, decorative containers, or mirrors.

Any aluminum can. Foil wrap, pie tins, and pans are OK but must be fully rinsed.

Plastic household jars and bottles
All plastic with the recycling logo is recyclable. Plastic food containers should be rinsed out and the caps removed. Plastic grocery bags are recyclable as long as they are bundled. Ziplocks, large storage tubs, and buckets are not recyclable.

Aerosol cans
Empty the contents and remove the nozzle.

Steel and tin household containers
All food cans are fine but must be rinsed. Labels don’t have to be removed.

*Large cardboard items, magazines, catalogs, and telephone directories will be able to be picked up curbside once the automated recycling program is in place.
Non-recyclable items
Wax-paper goods
Coat hangers, plastic and wire
Plastic utensils
Syringes and medical items (pill bottles are
Tissue and toilet paper

Some helpful websites about recycling: and San
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