I used to think I was a first-ballot shoo-in for recycler’s heaven, but now I’m not so sure.
It started when my wife told me our daughter had visited the Web site for the company that picks up our recyclables. The company has a list of what can and can’t be included in our blue bin, and the distaff side of the family, possibly even in league with my son, has this mysterious reverence for factual information.
My daughter found that Styrofoam wasn’t on the OK-to-recycle list and reported that to my wife, who reported it to me.
I consider recycling a passport to virtue, if not heaven, and I wasn’t happy. For one thing, I would’ve preferred never to know about Styrofoam’s exclusion. It’s not like the guys who jump off the truck to empty the blue bin care what’s in it.
I wave at them, they wave at me, and we’re all as content as clams.
But now that I know Styrofoam’s not on the list and my wife knows that I know, it’s not like I can toss those 32-ounce cups I love in the bin and get away with it. If she sees them, out they go into the trash and the life expectancy of Earth is reduced by .005 billionth of a Styrosecond.
If there are people employed to sort through the recyclables, aren’t I supporting the job market by including Styrofoam for them to discard?
It’s a win-win situation, so it’s a shame I have to stop using Styrofoam. Not only am I less the recycler I once was, but foam cups are simply better than their plastic brethren, which are, in fact, recyclable.
Styrofoam cups keep drinks cold (or hot) longer, don’t sweat as much in warm weather and won’t leave telltale rings on furniture.
Used to be I’d keep a good Styrofoam cup around three or four days, rinse it between refills, recycle it once it looked ratchet and then feel good about having helped it reach its potential.
Those days are gone.
I’ve shifted to plastic, even bought a 32-ounce reusable mug at the convenience store. But it’s top-heavy, and if I’m not careful it tumbles from the cup-holder into my lap when the car accelerates. It’s a nice mug, but frankly it’s no match for Styrofoam.
I work in the Outer Hinterlands — which I like a great deal — but your average Hinterlander hasn’t caught the recycling bug. I might wish they were just like me, but it’s not happening anytime soon.
So at work I recycle while virtually everyone else tosses their pop cans and coffee cups in the trash, minus the guilty conscience.
I admit it bothers me, but you won’t catch me pounding the recycler’s bible and warning non-believers that salvation lies around the bend for anyone who sees The Light.
When I’m in the office, I keep two grocery sacks behind my desk, one for used paper and one for everything else. Once the sacks overflow and things spill everywhere, I know it’s time to visit the recycler.
Everyone in the office sees me do this and knows I keep the sacks where I do, so it’s not like my practice is a secret. The sacks are theirs to use, but I’m not about to browbeat co-workers into following my example.
The place where I recycle has separate bins for paper and glass, and then fairly tall fenced-in, side-by-side areas for plastics and cardboard. I dump the paper and then go through the other sack item by item, working on my three-point jump shot as I toss them over the fence.
When I’m done, I fold the sacks and head back to work, feeling good knowing that I’m a step closer to recycler’s heaven.
My faith is as tall and strong as a redwood tree, but you won’t catch me asking anyone about their Styrofoam policy.
Share your tree-hugger’s stories with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.