Recycle This

Mule Day just recently wrapped up in Columbia, so I guess this is as good a time as any to admit that I’ve pretty much been as stubborn as one when it comes to recycling or really anything “green,” for that matter.  There … I said it.  Shoot me!

It’s not that I’m against saving the planet, though my image of Mother Nature has been distorted since childhood.  Every time I hear the phrase… I can’t help but envision that maniacal lady from the 70s margarine commercial who said, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” Am I the only one who remembers that?  Here’s the link … in case you forgot it or perhaps … weren’t BORN when this advertising gem hit the airwaves:

As it turns out, the creepy voice may have been onto something.  I think researchers later determined that “Chiffon” was really just flavored plastic disguised as butter.  Whatever … it tasted fine.  I’d still be spreading it on my whole wheat bagels had the FDA not pulled it off store shelves.

The truth is I’ve been slowly migrating toward a greener me for about a year now, but it’s sort of like I’m stumbling into it backwards.  It all started one day when we were at the hardware store, and I ran across some of those energy-saver light bulbs on sale.  I’m all about saving a buck, so I decided to test them out.  Who knew it took them 10 minutes to fully illuminate?  I went to work in mismatched clothes for a month before I realized I needed to set my alarm 10  minutes early to let my closet warm up.  What gives with those things anyway?  Couldn’t someone invent a green light bulb that doesn’t have to “think about” whether it wants to participate in my day?

Next, I ditched my disposable coffee filters.  This was something I did out of desperation.  I got sick of running out of filters and improvising with a wad of Bounty.  Martha Stewart may be able to pull that off, but all it ever got me was a mug full of coffee grounds with some icky white residue floating near the top.  The reusable coffee filter ended up being a stroke of genius for a couple of different reasons.  Not only am I saving money on the actual filters, but I’m also using half the amount of coffee I used to.  The filter is so naturally filthy I can just run the water through it for weeks on end without even having to add any café Verona to the mix.  It’s sort of like the water in those New York hot-dog stands.  I’m convinced that isn’t really beef nestled between the buns; it’s actually some kind of rubber-like compound that’s been flavored by the ghost of hot dogs past.

Step three was to make the conversion to the reusable grocery bags.  This wasn’t really a conscious decision, either.  It’s just that one day it dawned on me that I could rack up a whopping three-cent savings per bag if I started using them instead of the plastic.  I’ve run the numbers, and as often as I go to the grocery … I should have them paid off by 2015.

If nothing else, this was a good PR move.  You can display a certain swagger when walking into the grocery with an armful of reusable bags underneath your arm.  It has a way of saying, “Look how responsible I am!”  People sometimes even wink at you when they see that you’re loading your cart with something that isn’t going to eventually take up a cubic foot of space in the local landfill.  Plus, I got sick of the granolas shaking their heads with shame every time I emphatically said “plastic” at the register.  I decided I was either going to have to buy some bags or start going to the grocery in disguise.  I chose the path of least resistance.

Now here’s where things get strange.  I was feeling pretty good about my moderate lifestyle changes … that is, UNTIL my neighbors came down for a cookout.  At the end of the night, my BFF’s husband began dumpster diving for all of the glass bottles I’d been mindlessly chucking in the trash over the past three hours.  “Whatcha doin,’ John?”  I ask sheepishly, somehow knowing that I’d just committed the cardinal recycler’s sin.  I might as well have just beaten a stray puppy on the front lawn in front of a PETA demonstrator!  “Oh, nothing,” he yelled from the bottom of my trashcan.  “We just recycle these.  It’s no big deal!”

In that moment I decided … that’s it!  I’m turning this thing up a notch.  I will NOT be outdone by the neighbors!!  We WILL become the Al Gore-loving recyclers God meant for us to be … even if it means living in complete squalor, surrounded by our own used trash.  I say this because we’re barely getting our garbage bin out to the curb on time as it is, and we have no recycling program in our neighborhood.  By June, our house will be fit for an episode of “Hoarders.”  The world is built on good intentions, and now … those good intentions will greet me every morning and every night.  Where’s that non-light producing bulb when you need it?


One Response

  1. Too funny! I do think it’s a shame that the city of Nashville doesn’t support any kind of real recycling program. Why can’t the city planners model something after the successful programs in the Pacific Northwest? Unfortunately if recycling is a major inconvenience, then a lot of people won’t do it.

    Love your blog!

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