Day 19: Deep Feelings About Recycling

June 7th, 2015

 Joslyn Hamilton, freelance editor and writer, Salt Lake City, Utah

I’m taking part in a 30-day writing experiment. See Kale & Cigarettes for details and the Facebook Group to read stories by other 500-words-ers.

In today’s first-world news, my mom is visiting and we are having our usual ongoing argument about what is recyclable and what isn’t. For some reason, we both really care about this issue—or rather, we both care about being right about this issue.

It’s confusing because different things are recyclable in different cities and states, and since I just came from California, and she from Massachusetts, neither of us really know what we’re talking about. But this does not stop us from talking about it, incessantly.

Here in Utah, for whatever asinine reason, the curbside pickup does not take glass. If you want to recycle your glass, you have to bring it to a special glass-recycling facility that is god knows where. I hate this about Utah, but I am also too busy-with-twins-slash-lazy to set aside all my glass and drive it somewhere in my car, which is already filled with car seats and strollers et al.

My mother, on the other hand, insists that we set aside the glass and says that she will bring it to the recycling place… someday. She first made this proclamation about five months ago, the last time she was visiting. A mountain of dirty glass bottles has been piling up in our garage ever since. The other day, Jon got annoyed when the flimsy cardboard box broke and bottles started rolling around our garage willy nilly and olive oil and, er, wine got everywhere. Buh-bye, dirty glass collection.

Another ongoing argument we have about recycling is whether you can recycle Styrofoam. Both she and Jon insist that if there is a number on the bottom of the box, it’s recyclable. Several times I have pedantically explained, in my talking-to-a-toddler voice, that the number might mean the object can be recycled—in theory—but it doesn’t mean it will be recycled if you put it in the recycling bin. You have to check with your local recycling service and see which numbers they accept. In my tireless research I have found that very few municipalities in the US will take Styrofoam. I actually called a lady at the Sandy recycling depot to confirm this.

Because it is very important to me to be right about recycling.

Yesterday my mom and got into it over whether you can recycle cardboard juice cartons that have wax on them. I say no; she says yes. Often these arguments culminate with her saying “Well let’s just throw it in the recycling bin and see what happens.” This makes my Virgo head explode.

If this argument goes too far, I’ll point out, as I often do, that recycling is a waste of time anyway because half the stuff we throw in the recycling bin ends up on a barge to China and might even get dumped in the sea forevermore. I’ll take this argument further until it turns into a whole futility-of-life, doomed-human-race sort of deal. It’s about way more than recycling; everything is pointless.

As long as I am right.



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One Response to “Day 19: Deep Feelings About Recycling”

  1. Tom says:

    This is one of the series’ best.

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