Tag Archives: Recycling

Courage at Twilight: A Motley Assortment

Home from the grocery store each week, I am appalled at the number of plastic grocery sacks that enjoy single-use lives of less than one hour, only to be discarded.  Sometimes the baggers put only one item in a bag.  At least we take them back to the grocery store to be recycled instead of sending them to the county dump.  Penn State says Americans throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags per year!  “You know, Mom,” I ventured, “we could take reusable bags.”  She quickly warmed to the idea, and remembered her stack of such bags on a shelf in the garage, where they had sat for 20 years waiting to be useful.   Mom grabbed the stack and threw it in the back of the faithful suburban so we would not forget them the next time we shopped.  At the grocery store the following week, she filled my cart with the dozen sacks, a motley assortment, from Intermountain Hospitals, Public Broadcasting System (Mystery!), Utah Shakespearian Festival, Consumer Reports, and an old canvas bag from Dad’s employer Johnson & Johnson.  Several were small unmarked duffels, and one was printed with red hearts and an assortment of colorful cats and dogs.  These dozen bags held as much as thirty or forty plastic bags would have held, and were easier to carry.  “I’m so proud of us,” Mom crowed as we unloaded the groceries at home, having used not a single plastic grocery sack.  Back to the faithful Suburban I took the bags, ready for shopping next week and every week thereafter.

 

Courage at Twilight: Recycling Buddies

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.