“Where’s your recycling?’’ my oldest grandson, who turns 13 in April, asked a few years ago. “Just throw it in the trash,’’ I answered.
He wasn’t happy with my answer. That Sunday afternoon, a little kid, empty drink container in hand, gave a well-thought-out argument, statistics to support it, about the need to recycle. Over the months that followed he was backed up by partners-in-crime, his brother and four cousins.
Eventually, a few little kids shamed their grandparents into recycling.
I had lots of excuses. Our trash hauler doesn’t pick up recycling, I said.
To my credit, I really thought that was the case. I’d never seen a recycle truck for the trash hauler we use, though I did know it was one of their contract requirements. A long-delayed phone call revealed all their trucks are separated – one side for trash, the other for recycled.
It’s a hassle.
That’s true, if you consider taking a moment to rinse a can of bottle under the faucet, putting paper and cardboard, plastic, and bottles and cans into separate containers, and leaving those containers out with your regular trash.
Is it worth it? We’ve significantly reduced the number of regular trash bags we use every week, and what we’re recycling is turned back into paper and cardboard and other products that we use every day.
Truth is, there’s a bit of laziness in the genetic makeup of humans, this one included. The path of least resistance is favored and that is throwing all the trash into one big pile and closing our eyes to the outcome.
That result, in communities all across this nation, are acres of closed landfills in varying stages of recovery; high hills of trash covered by loam, telltale gas vents poking up from the ground.
What came after landfills? Incinerators – and environmentalists have been concerned since the beginning with the affect the smoky emissions have on human health and the earth’s atmosphere.
Burning the least amount of trash possible benefits everyone.
I was at one of the closed landfills on Wednesday, part of a group of New Englanders touring the Blackstone Valley Recycling Center with Congressman James McGovern, D-MA 3rd Congressional District.
The center is located on the site of the town of Blackstone’s former landfill on Chestnut Street and it is the future of trash – bales of compacted cardboard, paper and plastic ready to be recycled.
It started as a one-man operation for the host town and in seven years has grown to include several towns in the Blackstone Valley and the city of Woonsocket, R.I. – a true regional effort to save the environment.
At the same time, the center is putting money back into its member communities at a time when every dime counts. Tonnage in equals money out and into town coffers.
It’s a great regional project and another reason why the Blackstone Valley stands out as a wonderful place to live.
I do think recycling is a hassle, but it really is a necessary part of the future. My grandkids are wise enough to know that.
Now they’ve targeted my bottle water habit. That will be a harder nut for them to crack, I think. But at least I’m recycling the plastic.