Recycled OUT!

1 June 2011 at 10:12 am 1 comment

When I first moved in with my brothers, I thought I would finally get down to business and start recycling regularly. For years, I have had a small paper recycle bin next to my desk, and I often tried to recycle my plastic, but I had never made a serious and concerted effort to recycle on a continuous basis.

So, I headed down to the store and found three large bins in the color blue, and I made some laminated signs that read “Paper & Plastic Here”, “Aluminum Cans & Glass Here” and “Cardboard & Styrafoam Here”. I felt tremendously proud of myself, and as my bins started to fill, I thought of how wonderful I was. I was “saving the planet” after all.

“Look at all this stuff that isn’t going into a landfill — thanks to little ol’ me!” I thought with just a little bit of pride. I was able to make regular trips once a week to empty my bins, and my brothers were amazed at how little needed to actually go into the trash, because we were recycling so much. The world was green and I was contributing to its brightness! All was good.

Then as is typical with most projects, somehow things got out of control. It started simply enough. I thought, if I am recycling already, I might as well take home recyclables from work. So, I put out a recycle bin, and started emptying that once a week. Then I noticed how many plastic and aluminium drink containers were being thrown away at my dojo, so I offered to put a recycle bin there. That one filled a more quickly, so it needed emptying at least twice a week. My mother noticed I was recycling, so she asked if I would take her aluminium cans too… well, of course I could!

The result is bags and bags and bags of.... recyclable trash.

So, now I have a car consistently filled with trash — wonderful, green, recyclable trash, but trash nonetheless! And when I get home at night, I feel more like a bag lady than a “hip and cool” 30s singleton living in the modern world.

I think there needs to be some truths told. Recycling in all its 21st Century glamor is not glamorous at all! It means picking up sticky cans with small sips of soda still sitting in the bottom. It means that when you get stopped by a police officer his first question is often, “Do you live in your car?”  It means cleaning up the small sips of soda that invariably drip out and all over any container they are stored in — be it trash bag, recycle bin, or car trunk. It means apologizing to your friends, because they have to slide up next to a trash bag filled with plastic bottles if they want a ride. It means stopping by the recycle bin on the way home, even when you just want to go to bed.

But as annoying and painful as the whole process has been, there is still a small measure of pride and fulfillment to be had as I realize how much trash I have stopped from becoming real trash. The feeling isn’t modern,  new age or glamorous, but more like the gritty satisfaction you get from working on your car. Its disgusting and dirty, but when you go in and wash your hands and enjoy a good glass of lemonade, somehow, it all seems worth it.


Entry filed under: word of the week. Tags: , , , , .

the other megan At First Sight

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Rebekah  |  3 June 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Perfect photo!

    “Do you live in your car?”


    Ian and I used to haul around a ton of recycling, so I hear you. I biked paper and magazines to the bins on campus, but plastic and had to be hauled to the local center, and glass… oy, glass. We had to save the glass for trips to Tucson, which were few and far between.

    If you can convince the people in your life to drink less soda/beer/whatever comes in cans and bottles, you’ll reduce your recycling considerably and their teeth will last longer. I bought myself a pretty water bottle, which was a nice reminder. However, I realize that it’s tough to talk people into drinking less soda. Very.

    Hang in there, lady! Bask in that gritty satisfaction!

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