Recycle Me Please

Let’s not even talk about the 948 mile drive here in an SUV (which actually got surprisingly good gas mileage on the highway.)  I’m plugging my ears and saying “La, la, la” in denial over that one.

But yesterday I threw away a milk carton for the first time in over 10 years.  I’ve been recycling for a long time – way before it became cool.  At home my recycling trash is bigger than my trash trash.  I wash those Styrofoam trays that meat comes in in the dishwasher and take them to school to be used to pour paint into so at least they’ll have a second use before sitting in the earth for 50 years.  I use the backs of my daughter’s spelling flash cards for my shopping lists and then put them in my purse instead of throwing them away at the market so I can put them in the recycle trash at home because God forbid that tiny piece of paper (which only takes 2 weeks to biodegrade, unless of course it’s thrown away inside a plastic bag, then it’s anyone’s guess) gets thrown into the regular trash!    When I walk my dog every morning I actually pick up trash.  Not just bottles and cans that will get my kids 5 cents at the recycling center (I mean c’mon, you’d bend over and pick up a nickel wouldn’t you?), but actual trash in the gutter because I know it’s going to wash away into the ocean.  In a word; I’m kind of a freak.

At home I use a detergent for my dishwasher that is phosphate free because we are killing our oceans.  Okay, I have to admit that it doesn’t get my dishes quite as clean as the leading brand that most people use, but I’ve been using it so long I hardly notice any more.  (Don’t worry those of you who eat at my house, I scrub away all the yucky stuff before putting my dishes in the dishwasher – trust me, my dishes are clean.)  But here, at the timeshare, I use that leading brand (it was supplied by the timeshare), don’t scrub my dishes, put in the pots and pans that I usually wash by hand to save space in the dishwasher and not run it as often, and okay I admit it, ran the dishwasher when it was 75% full instead of completely stuffed.  At least I remembered to bring my Simple Green for cleaning the counters.

Last night my husband held up a red wine bottle and said, “I hate to do it, but I’m have to throw this away.”  “I know,” I said.  But the thought of that glass bottle sitting in landfill for a million years sent me over the edge.  I dug the milk carton (biodegration time:  forever – even longer than the wine bottle) and a tin can (biodegration time:  100 years) out of the garbage (both already rinsed out out of habit) and placed them next to the trash can under the sink.  I’m calling the front desk today to see if recycling is an option.  We are in Colorado after all.  Isn’t this place even more hippie-granola than California?  And if they say no?  Well, we are carting our soda cans and beer bottles back to California to claim our redemption fee.  Maybe there will have to be a place for milk bottles and tin cans (and flattened out cereal boxes) too…

*This post originally appeared on skirt.com on August 19, 2008. I have archived it here after learning that skirt will be shutting down the blogging portion of its site on November 30, 2013.

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