Recycling Madness

IMG_0145I look forward each Wednesday to placing the trash bins in front of my driveway knowing that at 6 Am the very next morning they will be lifted, cleared and then re-situated back in front of my garage for another week of garbage collection. It’s a cycle. I fill them up, they empty, then I fill them up again. Never ending! I have three bins total. One brown, one green and one black. Here in CA, the brown is for solid waste, the black for garden waste and the green for recycle. Funnily enough, I have watched the garbage truck arrive on many occasions and I am always intrigued by the way collections take place. In CA, the yard waste (black bin) is all separated and taken to a special plant that converts dead branches, flowers and grass into wood chips and compost, or so I’m led to believe. This truck is a truck that has only one task, that task being the removal of yard waste alone. The second truck that arrives about twenty minutes later has a different task. It’s purpose is to empty the green and brown bins simultaneously and drop their contents into two separate sides of said truck, one presumes? Presumption doesn’t always lead to curiosity, however in my case, I am curious as ever what exactly happens to each side and interested not only in finding out where they take all the crap I waste, but also what exactly happens to the rubbish I put in my recycle bin.

Recycle is such a strange concept to me. What do you place in your recycle bins? Has anyone ever told you what is allowed to be recycled and what isn’t? Are the items you recycle then recycled into some other form? Do you really care?  All reasonable questions, don’t you think? I know for a fact that a plastic bottle isn’t supposed to be placed in a recycle bin unless it has its top removed. Can you see it now? All these bottles showing up at some recycle plant and 4000 workers standing there unscrewing tops! Well I never take the top off the bottle before I throw it, do you? I don’t know anyone who does. And what about the items that your know should be out in the recycle bins but you decide at that particular moment in time that you can’t be bothered so you chuck them in the regular bins? What happens to them? They sit and rot on the dump site with everything else, but do you ever feel guilty? I don’t, but maybe I should. My points are all relevant and lead me to an experience that I had this past weekend inside Terminal C at Newark International Airport in New York.

One would presume that a garbage bin that has two different slots on its top, one for bottles and cans and one for paper, both clearly marked, would also have two separate bags inside, one reclaiming said bottles and cans and the other for the waste paper. Wrong! Take a look at the pictures I took on Saturday. Two slots, one bag. Obviously no one gives a damn! If our government-run organizations don’t care, as seen in these pictures, then why should we? Are we all being conned? Are we paying more money for garbage collection to our local authorities just to see it squandered on something quite unrelated to our garbage collection? Does recycling actually take place? If so where does it happen and who can confirm what happens in those plants? What do they do with the crap that’s put into these recycle bins that doesn’t belong there and who has the responsibility of deciding? If we all just stopped recycling, would it make any difference whatsoever to our planet, a planet that seems to be in steep and immediate decline? I was always led to believe that recycling was the best way and possibly the only way forward to avert the inevitable global catastrophe that is looming. Climate change, enhanced by excess CO2 gasses and Methane, all set free in massive tonnage from the garbage dumps we have created around the planet. Although not solely responsible for our issues of course, they are contributory in the damage the planet is receiving each day. Now, with the advent of recycling, weren’t we all supposed to partake and assist in aiding to the recovery of our planet? Hasn’t that been the ‘buzz’ word for the last two decades? Recycle and help mother earth get better?

It would appear from my discovery, your participation, or lack of, and the indeterminable fact of whether the earth will be able to survive with or without a recycle program, that our government, our leaders, the people who themselves are supposed to lead by example, just don’t give a flying fuck about anything other than throwing out the garbage the way it has always been thrown. Everything in one bag and off to the dump! When we run out of room, when the landfill is completely full, when space is at more of a premium that it is today, are we all going to look back at the bins inside Newark airport and say, ‘lazy bastards, you should have had two bags in that bin and you have enhanced global warming because of your stupidity?’ NO, we won’t. Why? Because we to, 99% of us, also don’t give a flying fuck what happens after we deposit our shit inside a garbage can, as long as the guy shows up next Thursday morning to remove it to someplace we will never care to see or never care to visit.

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What a Waste

You know it’s Christmas when you get to the mailbox and it’s filled to bursting with useless catalogs. What a waste! I just got 15 glossy’s in today’s mail and  every one of them has ended up in the recycle bin. What a complete waste! And then there’s the books filled with useless coupons. You know, the one’s where you can get $1 off Huggies, and you don’t have any kids, or $5 glue for false teeth, and you don’t actually have any false teeth! It’s so sad to think that we are totally consumed by this influx of magazines, particularly and Christmas time, and that so many tree’s have given their lives so that we can just discard that magazine in our recycle bins and watch it re surface as a Starbucks paper bag or another useless coupon at the local Safeway. Just think what we could do with all that paper, or forgive me, trees, if we didn’t chop them down in the first place. Oh, but then I forgot, our USPS service, already in a state of collapse, would disappear under the premise that it’s staff had nothing to deliver! No one sends letters anymore, so the sooner they realize that they are destined to go in the direction of that same recycled bin, the better off we all might be! When are we all going to wake up to the fact that mail, snail mail, is going to be a thing of the past? The USPS was asleep for the last 20 years while other companies like Fedex, UPS and their like, began to dominate a marketplace that demanded instant gratification, which also meant instant delivery. Hence the value of email, and the arrival of everything that you desire, within a 24 hour period. Oh, how life has changed.

In Scotland, as a child, we used to have pen pals. Do you remember doing that? I remember there was a service, and that service sent you a form to fill out and then paired you up with one or two people in different countries and you would send each other letters. Sometimes it would take months for that letter to arrive, often longer, but the thrill of receiving a hand written letter was incredible. Even if the letter consisted of only one page, you were the talk of all the classroom because your friend in Australia had written back telling you all the latest news and gossip from a life you could only dream of. It was marvelous. My first pen pal was Michelle Guigui in Paris, I even recall her address, Ave Mozart. She was so keen to come to visit me in Scotland, but as was usual in all these instances, that visit never actually materialized. It took me nearly 8 months to get her to send me a picture of her and her family, but look what happens now? You get pictures, video and live Skype calls, all in the space of moments. How things have moved on.

We never had coupons when I was growing up, we had bills. Only bills. The excitement was to receive a check, not a bill, but that was a rare occurrence too, and magazines were delivered with the Sunday newspaper and not just randomly, as they were this afternoon. Our life was so different. I was always stating that we would never be like our parents, in that we would never say, “oh, the good old days, they were so much better” and yet, here I am siting with my hands on keyboard telling you of how that past seemed so much better, perhaps not better, perhaps more simplified. Our choices today are so many, our ability to choose, so convoluted, and the choices we make are often surpassed by something better that we desire after we have chosen. That’s why there is so much wastage. I watch as people, kids and adults alike, and again, I include myself in this category, receive a gift, make a purchase or set our sights on something, anything, that might change or brighten up our lives, only to purchase or receive that item and find something much better just around the corner, or on another page in another catalog, only to commence the whole ‘want’ process once again. It’s very evident in the teenage generation of today. One minute there’s the greatest new game for the computer and within days, the next greater than greatest has already arrived. What happened to going outside and playing with a gold old, one of a kind, football or baseball? Even footballs are becoming softer, lighter, faster, and more perfect, but they are still only a football!

And so another trip to my recycle bin commences, because tomorrow the garbage men arrive,(dustbin men for those of you in the UK, but then you knew that!), ready and willing to take anything that I have discarded into that particular receptacle, to wherever they take it to. I have often wondered if there are teams of employed garbage selectors posted at journey’s end? I mean, with what I throw in that particular bin varies so much, all recyclable, and all perfectly legit, who actually determines what goes into what recycle direction once it arrives at the processing plant? Anyone got any thoughts on that? I see many people who are so obviously down on their luck, peddling bicycles from garbage bin to garbage bin and collecting cans and bottles, all which, offer a recycle fee at any of the many recycle stations based here in CA, but what about the wrapper from my cereal box? Where does that end up? Or, the paper that my dental floss came in? Or with so many other things that are recyclable, who is it that determines their fate? I am really curious. And once fate is determined, what is the process to take these items and make them into something else? Anyone know that one??

Yes, Christmas is upon us, as proven by a continual parade of large SUV’s toddling down the main road near my home, with their proverbial freshly cut Christmas tree from the Christmas tree farm, tied to the top of said car. Another complete waste of planet earth’s resources. Get a fake one, or just don’t bother, don’t kill innocent trees that might end up making fancy magazines to advertise unwanted gifts that all end up in my recycle bin to make other products that I’ll never know or care about!