There are three categories for trash/recycling up here: (clean) paper and cardboard; beverage cartons, bottles, metal and foil; and "everything else." And to keep these three categories separate, there are three different containers outside for us to put things in. Easy? Think again.
Let's say we pick up shirts from the cleaners (which is conveniently located at the end of our block.) Just like Mommie Dearest, Dean hates wire hangers, so those get tossed out. But wait! The hangers have those cardboard tubes on them! Take them apart! Tear off the paper and put that in a separate bin, too. Finished with a roll of toilet paper? Don't be so quick to toss that cardboard rube in the bathroom waste basket- if the sanitation department decides to check our recycling and finds YOUR cardboard tube in with the regular trash, look out. That means up to a $100 fine PER INCIDENT for the building.
We ordered a bed that arrived the other day. Inside, there was styrofoam (trash), cardboard (fold it up and tie it together), extra screws (metal), and binding strips (plastic.) Dean put the bed together, and I dealt with the recycling and proper disposal/placement of the stuff. He got the easier job.
So, when you come visit, please don't think we've lost our minds when we take your yogurt container out of recycling and toss it in the trash (those are NOT recyclable in NYC- tricked you, didn't I?) Please don't roll your eyes when we scrape the cheese out of the pizza box and put it in the bin labeled "cardboard." We just don't want our landlady mad at us... she yells in Italian, and it can get scary.