Too much garbage


Recently our office converted to a recycling scheme, and we require our staff to separate their recyclables from their non-recyclables. Most of them do it; some don’t. This shocks me. Don’t they care? Don’t they understand?



That’s one issue. Then there’s the issue of the volume of the garbage we produce.



Partner and I, between the two of us, produce at least three or four thirteen-gallon bags of garbage per week.  What is it? Newspapers. Food waste.  Food containers and boxes. Wrapping paper. Plastic bottles. Junk mail. Waste tissues, and paper towels, and napkins. I took a bag out to the garbage this evening, and it weighed at least ten pounds, and it was maybe two days’ worth of kitchen garbage.



Partner and I aren’t doing this on purpose, I swear. Nothing is going into the garbage that we can reuse or repurpose. I try to do everything I can to reduce waste. I minimize wrapping. We take our own reusable bags to the grocery store. I buy perfectly normal groceries.



And yet we’re producing garbage like hooligans.



What the hell’s wrong with us?

Redacting the trash

redacting the trash

My office recently began recycling its trash in earnest.

And guess who gets to lead the recycling effort? Yes, you guessed it: little old me, natural offspring of the Lorax and Woodsy Owl.

I am a natural Green Warrior. I have no car, and I walk a lot, and I take public transportation. I turn off lights and appliances when they’re not in use. I buy compact fluorescent bulbs (even though I’ve noticed they don’t last as long as everyone said they would; they seem to burn out almost as quickly as regular incandescent bulbs). I take sackloads of household goods and clothing to the Salvation Army. I was born in Ecotopia, after all, and I’m still an Ecotopian citizen in my heart.

But not everyone feels the same way about recycling.

I tried to make the office recycling method as easy as I could. We have blue garbage cans (for recyclables) and gray garbage cans (for non-recyclables). We have color-coordinated bin liners! We have posters, and lists, and information!

And still, every day, I find the wrong garbage in the wrong garbage can.

It’s usually first thing in the morning, when I arrive at the office. I think the University police use our cafeteria at night when they’re patrolling, and they throw their greasy pizza boxes and burrito wrappers and orange peels in the blue garbage bin, where it doesn’t belong.

I sigh. I like the fact that the cops come in at night; the building is much more secure as a result. I can deal with a little non-Green behavior.

And I roll up my sleeves, and dig the greasy wrappers out of the blue bin, and deposit them in the gray bins. And the orange peels, and slimy plastic containers, and everything else.

One of our computer programmers was watching me do it the other day. “What in the hell are you doing?” he asked.

“Redaction,” I said. “I’m redacting the garbage.”

He shook his head and grinned.

I don’t mind. I have no pride, and I have no shame. If someone sees me digging in the garbage with both hands, I can brush it off with a smile.

I’m working for the good of the planet.

(And you know what? My great-aunt Estelle was a cleaning lady for years. It’s not a bad job. It’s simple and repetitive and calming. If I ever lost everything and had to start over again, I think I could be a custodial worker.)

(It’s an honest living.)

%d bloggers like this: