Mom and I are recycling buddies, distressed by the thought of recyclable paper, cardboard, plastic, and metal cans being dumped by the billions into landfills. Aluminum cans are 100% recyclable: each can recycled results in a new can. We fill two large green recycling containers throughout the week, and set them by the curb on Sunday night for Monday morning pickup. Even the toilet tissue tube is remembered. If the wind is blowing on Sunday, we wait for early Monday, because during one storm all the containers on the street blew over, sending recyclables sprawling across the neighborhood. E.P.A. reports that Americans discard more than 2,000,000 tons of aluminum cans each year—that’s 40 billion pounds, enough aluminum to rebuild the nation’s entire commercial airline fleet every three months. I am astounded that we dig the stuff up out of the earth, refine it, shape it into packaging—all at huge cost—and then use it and throw it away so more of it can be mined at huge cost. About 30,000,000 tons of plastic go to U.S. landfills each year. To me, it makes so much sense to reuse these materials. I choose to stow my cynicism about the American recycling industry, hoping it becomes more robust instead of diverting our recyclables to the landfill. Anyway, Mom and I have fun saving our clean recyclables for the weekly recycling truck. My sister Megan takes our glass bottles to a glass recycler. We like to believe we are doing something good for our planet.
As I walked along Rabbit Lane in the dark of early morning, I could hear only the distant hum of thousands of cars commuting to the Salt Lake valley. The birds and crickets still slept. The air hung still and silent over field and pasture. I pondered Rachel Carson’s fearsome prediction in 1962 of a future where the wanton use of chemical poisons would wipe out the world’s singing, croaking, and buzzing creatures. With a touch of irony, or sarcasm, I penned this poem, a mixture of hope and foreboding. Visit the Rabbit Lane: Memoir page of this blog to read more about places of peace and hope, and to ponder how you can contribute to the world’s beauty and diversity.
not silent quite.
the growing hum
Roger Evans Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The non-fiction book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. Rose Gluck Reviews recently reviewed Rabbit Lane in Words and Pictures.