One unexpected side effect of incorporating good recycling habits into your every day life is insight. There is something sobering about carrying a handful of recyclables into my dimly lit garage and seeing the blue mouths of nearly filled containers staring back at me. Most of the recycling bins that I’ve seen have open tops, probably because the materials are meant to be rinsed clean, but I also think there might be more to it than just that.
“Holy shit, have we really used that many cans?” or “How the fuck did we go through so much plastic? We don’t even drink pop anymore.” Just a few of the many thoughts that enter my mind each time I enter the formerly unused garage corner space that is now our recyclables staging area. Seeing that much waste, recyclable as it may be, makes me want to use less. Not throwing away perfectly salvageable products is a step in the right direction, but we cannot discount the environmental impact each iteration has; all creation has a cost, regardless of the version #.
There is value, I think, in being forced to look your trash in the eye. My community doesn’t have a recycling pickup service, which means that I have to pack all of the salvage into my car and carry each load to its appropriate container at the recycling center. All of this work and consequential appreciation has made me wonder, maybe part of humanity’s trash problem is that we have made being wasteful too easy. What if our kitchen trashcans were transparent, uncolored, and displayed out in the open, stealing our ability to simply chuck things away at will. If Americans were made to hand carry all of their trash bags to the dump and sort each into the proper category, we would no longer be able to absentmindedly drop objects into the big bin to the beyond and pretend as if they never existed at all.
The above proposition seems ridiculous, I know, but try to picture a world where this mentality exists. If you can picture it for even just a second, then you have successfully imagined a world where people use less, waste less, eat better, donate more, recycle everything, and maybe even buy less needless shit.
This will never happen, I understand that. All I’m saying is that some inconveniences also serve a higher purpose, and purpose, not happiness, is the key to making the most out of this existence. That is, however, another conversation… let’s talk more soon.