For years now my sister would get on me about recycling. Of course, every time we’d stay with family in Baltimore, I’d invariably need to throw something away. Whether it was a damp plastic cup from a recent trip to a local food joint, orange peels, bread crusts, a milk carton that one of my daughters just finished off, or an empty can of tuna; my only concern was how quickly could I find a place to dispose of it, so I could move on with my day.
Not being a recycler myself, I wouldn’t hesitate to toss the waste into the nearest receptical I could find. But soon after doing so, I’d hear my sisters agitated voice booming at me from the kitchen, “MAAARC, YOU’RE MIXING GARBAGE WITH REUSABLE’S AGAIN…RESPECT MY RECYCLE MAN!!!”
Dude, come on, ain’t nobody got time to be going through all that organizing, sorting and picking through trash. I’ve got better things to do than rummage through all that mess. This is what I thought to myself as I walked back into the kitchen to receive yet another lesson in “what goes where” from my sis.
It’s not like I didn’t see the value in recycling, I just had never gotten into the habit because:
- It takes more time (stay-at-home dad with three daughters…time is at a premium). For me it wasn’t very convenient.
- It was just so confusing. I didn’t know what was recyclable and I had better things to do than to figure it out, I justified.
- Mostly I’d just plum forget to recycle…not an activity that was in the forefront of my brain!
Ignorance is bliss!
Plus, even if I did recycle, where the heck was I supposed to take all that stuff? Seriously, I’m expected to put my hands in all that rubbish to sort out that junk then load it up in the car and lug it somewhere too? It’s not like we have curbside pickup for recycle. Please…I just wasn’t gonna be able to do it.
This went on for years as I continued to toss out pound after pound of perfectly reusable materials, doing my part to increase the size of my local landfill without a hint of guilt or shame (well maybe just a ping of remorse). But not enough to cause me to make a lifestyle change, even though somewhere in the back of my mind – probably from the seed planted by my sister, it seemed that recycling was the right thing to do.
And then my well guarded bliss was suddenly shattered like glass, splaying a thousand splintered daggers across the recesses of my mind!
Well no, it wasn’t that dramatic, but it was interesting that one day out of the blue, one of my girls had randomly suggested that we should start recycling; not realizing that just the day before, I had for the first time seen an obscured unassuming sign marking the location of the McIntire recycling center. This center was so close to my house that I must have driven past it over a hundred times, never realized it was there. I knew of its existence from word of mouth, but I never knew how conveniently located it really is.
Realizing it’s close proximity to our residence and coupled with my daughter’s random recycle request, a light bulb went off inside my consciousness, illuminating my dull state of unawareness. It was as if something was whispering to me through this case of sheer serendipity. The alarm had sounded and the bell had tolled. I had no more excuses.
According to conserve-energy-future.com, there are many reasons why we should recycle, and one individual or family can truly make a world of difference. “Averagely, every American produces about 1600 pounds of waste every year and that up to 1100 pounds of waste, is able to be recycled every year per person. That represents a half a ton per individual. This means a family of four can minimize waste by more than two tons each year just by the easy task of recycling.”
This week marks one month since we as a family made the commitment to recycle. I don’t know that I’d agree that it’s an “easy task” to recycle, but it certainly feels good to believe that you are doing something good for the environment, while teaching your children a valuable lesson about their responsibility to our global community. For we are all one people, and are responsible for one another.
The girls have really taken to sorting out the different types of reusables, and it’s become yet another fun activity heading down to the recycling center. We feel our efforts are going a long way toward preserving our environment because surprisingly, it seems that more than half of the stuff we used to throw away can actually be reused!
I always knew about recycling, but knowing about it and actually doing something about it are two different things. I’m glad we have now made it a part of our lives. And now like my sister, I’m a proud recycler. There was a time when I scoffed at this proposition, now I put some “respeck” on it!
Nice post Marc. I’m glad you took the high road! Make it easy on yourselves and have a container for recyclables and one for trash, that way you won’t have to dig through the trash to pull out the recyclables. (from the mom of a recycler).