Do you recycle?
We prided ourselves on being environmentally conscious. We saved our hazardous waste (used motor oil, paint, batteries, garden sprays) for the annual collection in a nearby town; we separated non-returnable bottles for reuse, along with papers and metal and plastic. We made compost from our vegetable waste, used cloth napkins, and were proud to have raised our three children without disposable diapers.
Then we moved to a town that was big enough to provided containers in two locations for recycling newspaper, other paper, three different colors of glass (three different dumpsters), aluminum cans, and numbers 1 and 2 plastic. Here we got a wakeup call of sorts. We had to pile everything into our car to take it to the place where a rank of big white containers were so high I couldn’t reach the opening to put a bundle of newspapers through.
Squatting like a couple of ugly gnomes were two more mud-colored hulks dedicated to cardboard. Invariably, people had lifted the lids somehow so they could shove in boxes still folded and bulky enough to prevent the addition of our carefully flattened contributions. After several years, a ramp was provided between the two paper containers so that someone under 5’11” could insert an armload of magazines through the apertures — if there was room inside the container for two or three more sheets of paper. Procrastination occasionally meant two trips to this unappetizing venue.
The worst of all to us was that there was no provision for empty cans from wasp spray or paint thinner, no provision for dead batteries or burned-out fluorescent light bulbs. Instructions from our landlord to deposit these in trash for the landfill went against what had become our instincts. This in spite of the fact that recycling costs more than simply dumping, we'd become committed.
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