It???s easy being green

December 14, 2011


I hope I don’t get any preachier than my standard “if each person recycled just one more, or even their first, [insert item here] …” Because it’s true. If you held on to one more empty pop can until you came across the next bright blue receptacle, you would have helped your life’s host, Mother Earth.

There. That’s out of the way.

My own newest shtick to contribute to the well-being of our planet is to, at the office, walk my trash back to the communal waste basket in the kitchen rather than throwing it into the smaller one under my desk. 

A couple months ago, a new cleaning company started. I wouldn’t have even noticed, because they do every bit as capable* a job as their predecessors, only they put my waste basket back in a slightly different position. I’m an only child who doesn’t share well. I notice when my things have been messed with.

Pondering the altered location of my waste basket got me to pondering the waste basket itself. If it was in a different spot, then they did something with it.

I don’t usually have much to throw away. My day’s trash is unlikely to be more than a tea wrapper or two and maybe a tissue or two. I have always taken my paradoxically wasteful styrofoam to-go box from lunch back to the kitchen receptacle not because I think it will become smelly, but because in some weird way I don’t think it’s anybody’s business (least of all the cleaning people who likely make substantially less than I) that I spent money on lunch out, and I don’t want to provide evidence for the guessing of what it might have been. 

As an aside, if there’s any way I can tell the food place to just wrap it in foil rather than putting it in a whole box, or to skip the enclosing carrier bag, I do. See? There’s another simple way to conserve. But I digress.

I got to wondering if the cleaner who tends my waste basket indiscriminately gathers up the entire plastic garbage bag containing its tea wrapper and tissue and tosses it into the giant other bag on the housekeeping cart, or if he or she recognizes that it is small, unmessy, minor trash and just plucks it out for a quick transfer. They all wear protective gloves these days, so there would never be the possibility of contamination.

Nevertheless, I made the decision not to take the chance. I slightly inconvenience myself to take my tea wrapper back to the kitchen basket in order to remove any chance that my desk bag will be sacrificed for eight square inches of paper. The thought of an eight-gallon plastic bag going into the landfill every day for virtually nothing horrifies me. It should horrify you, too. 

If that didn’t sink in, how about the thought of 5 bags per 52 weeks for a total of 260 in a year. The next time you take the trash out, wad up the new bag before you install it. How much landfill space would that take up? Even if it’s for only 1 in 100 people, or 1000, or 10,000. Or even if that eight-gallon bag gets tossed only every other day. It adds up fast. It’s not difficult to actually do.

Okay, I’ve gotten preachy again but you get the idea. Now do something about it. It’s easy being green(er).


*Every bit as capable a job, except for the dead housefly that’s been on the kitchen window sill for weeks. We finally immortalized it.


December 5, 2011

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