Saturday, November 17, 2012

Environmentalism for Dummies

Thursday was America Recycles Day.  I know ‘cause I have a button that tells me so!

You wish you were this cool!

I’m not a card-carrying tree-hugging member of Greenpeace or anything and I probably don’t do my share to protect the environment – I never planted the the tree seedling that I got on Earth Day 1991, I don’t carpool unless it’s snowing or icy out, and I’ve used copious amounts of spray paint over the past few weeks – but I try to do a little bit to help protect the Earth until December 21, 2012 for future generations. 

Over the last few years or so, my workplace has really gotten into the whole green thing.  We actually won an award, I think, for using special light bulbs or something.  I probably should’ve read that article in the newsletter more carefully.  Although I was a bit disappointed when I found out that the Federal Paperwork Reduction Act didn’t have anything to do with reducing paper, my particular agency advocates double-sided printing and then we encourage everyone to recycle it when they’re done!  If that's not helping the environment, I don't know what is!

Recently, our efforts towards a greener America have taken a trashy turn.  Earlier this month, they installed three large trash cans in our cafeteria.  Hanging above each can are what can only be described as trash art – signs labeled “Compost,” “Recycle” and “Trash” with examples of each type of refuse that should be placed in the appropriate container.  Now, I’ve seen this before, most notably in the greenest of cities, the Emerald City – that’s Seattle for those of you who don’t keep up with city nicknames (oh! New trivia contest idea!!)  Anyway, since Seattle can do no wrong in my eyes, I was super impressed when I saw it.  Seattleites are so cool. 

But now every day after lunch, I feel like I’m faced with a multiple choice test and if I fail, Earth goes straight to hell in a trash can!  And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way – it’s fun watching my colleagues confidently approach the trash cans and then falter as they are faced with The Decision – which can do I throw my trash in?!
I’m fine with the recycling can – I expertly toss my Coke cans like I’ve been doing since before mixed recycling streams became cool.  But then I have to consider the rest of my lunch scraps.  The cardboard sleeve that my Healthy Choice Steamer Bowl comes in goes in the recycling bin.  Check.  But what about the plastic bowl and strainer thingie that are probably filled with dangerous amounts of BPA but which I ignore because the chicken margherita is just so good?  I think it’s a number 27 plastic.  Is that recyclable?!  If it's not a recyclable plastic will the recycling police take me away?  To the recycling plant, no less?!  I've heard about the recycling plant - they have corrugated cardboard there!  The horrors! 

What should I do with the offensive, disgusting mushrooms that I push to the side on the days that I eat chicken marsala instead of chicken margherita?  Do I scrape them into the compost container?  They came from the earth so they should probably return to the earth, right?  Then do I go back to the recycling can to throw away my bowl?  But by then, another one of my colleagues is trying to throw away his or her lunch and it’s rude to cut in front of them so I have to wait until they make their trash decisions.
According to the examples stuck on the signs, candy wrappers go into the trash can.  Okay, that’s perfect because I always have a 3 Musketeers wrapper to toss.  But what about that last bite that I never eat because event though we're Facebook friends, dear 3 Musketeers, sometimes too much nougat is just too much nougat and I can’t finish it eating you...which, by the way, I would argue means I'm really only eating 2 of the 3 Musketeers.  Does that last musketeer go into the compost can?  Should I just stick it in my mouth and chew so I don’t have to deal with this?  I just don’t know! 

There’s just so many choices!  So many decisions!  So much trash! 
No wonder I’m so stressed out afterwards. 

I think I’ll just go out for lunch from now on. 

On a serious note – recycle!  It’s the right thing to do!

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