There is a certain self-satisfaction in diverting reusable materials from the garbage can and sending them on their way to be recycled.
The problem is that not every reusable item is worth the trip.
Recycling glass, for example, is an exercise in expensive materials handling. It's heavy and expensive to transport, and there is little demand for it.
When West Virginia Recycling Services took over management of the recycling center on Slack Street, one of the first things owner George Hunyadi did was to stop accepting glass. The center could not give the stuff away.
"But the No. 1 question I got asked is 'Why did you guys stop taking it?' " Hunyadi said. "I've been receiving phone calls asking about it since Christmastime."
Yielding to pressure from the public, the company has begun accepting glass again. It will separate it, pulverize it, and give it away for use as mulch or walkway material.
At least the recycling center won't have to burn petroleum products hauling it to Beckley, as it had been doing.
Many people have a romantic notion, left over from childhood, of taking pop bottles back to the store for a few cents.
But what a child saw was not the whole story.
The reality was that pop companies hauled heavy bottles to the store, customers hauled the bottles home and then back to the store, and the company hauled the bottles back to the bottling plant where they washed and used them again.
That is a lot of hauling, most of it by gasoline-powered vehicles. Companies ditched bottles in favor of aluminum cans, and now plastic bottles, in an effort to reduce costs. In reducing costs, they also reduced the carbon footprint of drinking pop.
People should volunteer to haul some pulverized glass home to use in their flower beds and the like, because Hunyadi cannot give it away - and it just keeps coming in.