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Special package: The state of our trash

January 29, 2011 |  6:00 am

You know the cool yogurt shop spoons -- the ones that say "biodegradable"? Can they go in the blue bin for recycling? Or the green bin to be composted with yard waste? Or do they go in the black bin with non-recyclable trash, your conscience eased by the assumption that this plastic will break down faster in the landfill? (And does it, really?)

Pose these questions to enough intelligent, responsible, well-intentioned adults, and you're likely to get different answers. Which is why the print edition of the Los Angeles Times Home section this week is all about trash: the new wrinkles in recycling and future efforts to reduce the amount of waste we create in the first place.

Trash2 We've got:

Times writer Mary MacVean's lead story on how new materials and technology not only promise long-term benefits but also create short-term consumer confusion.

Times writer Susan Carpenter's new column, the Garbage Maven, which kicks off with a somewhat obsessive dissection of her own trash for a month.

A recycling timeline for L.A. (Do you remember the yellow crates?)

Finally, writer Alexandria Abramian-Mott asks the question: Is my kid a hoarder? Experts weigh in on children's predilection to collect, and what to do when they can't seem to part with those mountains of rocks, feathers, pamphlets and other kid junk.

In the weeks to come, stay tuned for a recurring feature in which we ask and answer: Can I recycle ... a greasy pizza box? A spaghetti sauce jar lid? A kid's juice box? Fast-food drinking straws? For those and other mysteries of the blue bin, bookmark the blog and check back as we make 2011 a very trashy year.

-- Craig Nakano

Illustration credit: Steven Sedam / For The Times