Stewardship of Life


Too Lazy to Recycle? You Slacker!

Posted in It's Personal by Robert Blezard on January 6, 2010

The empty sardine tin rests on the kitchen counter, so now is my moment of decision: Do I toss it in the trash, or do I rinse it out and put it in the metals recycling bin? I flip it into the trash because, to be honest, right now I am just too dang lazy to wash it.

See, sardines are pretty smelly and oily under the best of circumstances, and these have additionally been packed in oil. So unless I thoroughly wash the tin with soap and water, it will smell up the recycling bin. And, at least this particular afternoon, I’m too lazy to clean it out.

I think laziness is the chief reason why a lot of people fail to recycle. For instance, there’s “Chuck,” my good friend, who is an unrepentant non-recycler. Helping to make dinner one evening, I empty a big jar of spaghetti sauce into a pan and then reflexively begin rinsing it in preparation for recycling.

“You don’t need to do that,” Chuck says. “I don’t recycle. Everything goes in the trash.”

“Why?” I ask. It couldn’t be easier, I argue. Chuck’s town provides him with this shiny blue recycling bin. All he has to do is put cans, glass, paper and plastic recyclable inside and then drag the bin to the curb every Wednesday morning. What’s so hard about that?

Chuck shrugs. “Too much work.”

What an idiot!

Fortunately, not every American is as big a slacker as Chuck. Our record on recycling has good news and bad news, says greenhq.net. First the good: We have come a long way from 1980, when we recycled only 10 percent of our waste stream. In 2005 we recycled 32 percent, according to the General Accounting Office.

Now the bad news: In that time period, our waste generation has increased by 60 percent! So it’s great that we’re recycling a greater percentage of a bigger waste stream, but we’re still generating way, way, way too much waste, and still not recycling fully two thirds of it!

Recycling is good for a lot of reasons. Let’s take the example of the aluminum cans you put in the recycling bin. First, recycling saves on raw materials. It’s easier to melt down a bunch of aluminum cans and make new cans than it is to mine bauxite, crush it, heat it and mix it with a lot of chemicals that it takes to process bauxite into aluminum to make the same cans. Second, it’s pretty obvious this saves lots and lots of energy! Third, recycling keeps the cans out of the landfill, thereby preserving precious land resources.

There’s an additional benefit of environmental awareness. The habit of recycling household waste helps keep you thinking about the issue in the first place. It makes you feel you’ve done something good when you take the time to recycle, and guilty when you’re just too dang lazy.

Which is what I’m feeling at this moment. I’m definitely going to fish the sardine tin out of the trash, wash it and put it in the recycling bin. Then I’ll get to work teaching Chuck a thing or two about saving the earth, one sardine tin at a time.

Click here comment on this entry, which appears on Rob Blezard’s blog, “It’s Personal”

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4 Responses to 'Too Lazy to Recycle? You Slacker!'

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  1. Right On! Our community has a wonderful gal, “The Trash Queen”, who keeps us on our toes. We do a pretty good job of recyling. It has been a habit of mine since our children were in grade school about the time Earth Day began. In those early days, the kids took flatten tin cans to grade school. Both ends were cut out, the cans were flattened and sent to school with the kids. Blessings, keep up the campaign……Bev


  2. Right on, Rob! I think most of us have been guilty of slipping things into the trash bin because of “laziness.” I think it’s part of living intentionally to think about all the items that pass through our hands and lives–be they precious diamonds or lowly recyclables.

    Now the question–how do we work on reducing the amount of items that we recycle?

  3. Janice Bragunier said,

    Yay, Rob! My daughter is quite the tree hugger – she cuts all the plastic rings from our drink bottles. We recycle newspapers, but our trash company doesn’t offer recycling in our neighborhood – I wish they did. My Dad once donated a large portion of land at the end of the Appalachian Trail in Maine to the Nature Conservancy. His dream was to protect the natural pine forests, there at the edge of the gulf rim, for the wildlife. Two months after he died I took my children there to see the land. We planted wild flowers in his honor. I would love to have a vacation cabin there by the lake – it’s absolutely gorgeous! We also swam with beluga whales on that trip and learned more about the dangers of trash dumped into the ocean – humans are destroying the earth slowly…I’m a big supporter of wild life!


    • Blessed are the tree huggers, for they shall clean up the earth!


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