Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Recycling: Everybody's Doing It, Right?

I had a close encounter today with a mom from another planet. Not really, but now I have your attention. I was volunteering at my son's school to sell baked goods as a fundraiser for the music program. That's when I noticed the incredible amount of waste and lack of recycling going on every day in this lunchroom. The janitor emptied three huge trash cans twice during the hour I was there. Kids were throwing away lunches that looked like they'd hardly been touched, served to them on styrofoam trays--ugh!!! Into the trash also went plastic milk jugs and aluminum soda cans. Is there no recycling, I wondered?!

What floored me even more was the reaction of the other mom present with me. When I expressed disdain for such waste and lack of environmental responsibility, she showed equal disdain for the very thought of recycling. She commented, "The whole idea is just so gross--seeing all that piled up or having to rinse out soda cans or milk jugs sends shivers down my spine!" In her mind, I suppose, as long as it's contained in a plastic bag and she doesn't have to see it, it's OK to throw away whatever you like.

I try very hard not to use my blog as a soapbox, but does anyone else see a problem with this rationale? I thought our society had progressed to at least the level that most people saw the value and importance of recycling, even if they didn't participate. Maybe it's all those years in California, a state that has mandated that HALF of all waste be diverted from landfill (either by recycling or composting). Yes, some city municipalities like San Francisco do have great composting programs that are providing amazing results in Napa vineyards. It's the cycle of life, people!

Anyway, now I'm compelled to at least research whether recycling programs have been explored at our school and why they have not yet been implemented. Surely I'm not alone in my desire to preserve the earth for future generations. What better place to instill these values than our schools?

In our home, we've whittled down our trash to half a can a week. We take a car load of recycling twice a month to the recycling center and compost most of our food waste. As a New Year's resolution, I wanted our entire neighborhood to participate in recycling on some level. I even volunteered to take any neighbor's aluminum, steel, newspapers, cardboard, and mixed paper (the most valuable recyclable commodities). One neighbor is now on board. If you have questions about what can be recycled or where to drop items off in Knox County, go here.

I suppose that's how the green movement has to evolve--one person, one act at a time. When you realize it's not so tough or that it even feels good to do something positive for Mother Earth, you explore what else you can do. What steps have you taken recently to "go green"?

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