I’m an addict, it’s true. Here’s my candid story.
And now for something completely different…
I’m a child of the ‘90s. I grew up wearing over-sized flannel shirts and found enjoyment in pogs and Beanie Babies rather than reality TV and high-tech video game systems. One stand-out feature of my prehistoric upbringing was the omnipresence of the DARE program—Drugs, Resistance, Abuse, Education.
I remember all too well the uniformed police officers talking to my elementary school class about the dangers of drugs and the existence of peer pressure. I learned that peer pressure is bad, that I should just say “no.” I filed the lesson away for later, made my way through adolescence relatively unscathed, and thought that I wouldn’t have to worry about peer pressure ever again.
But I was wrong. I’m ashamed to admit that I have succumb to peer pressure. And I didn’t just try it once, I couldn’t stop. Now I’m an addict.
It’s probably not what you’re thinking. I’m not a drug addict, thank you. No, I’m a recycler.
I break down boxes, clean out milk jugs, and turn in pop bottles. I can’t help myself. Once you start, there’s no going back. How did I first venture down this neat and shiny roadway? It’s an ugly story really.
My husband and I bought our first house in beautiful suburbia. The neighbors were friendly and happy, but they had a dark side too. They kept urging me to try recycling. “Oh, it’s trash day, where’s YOUR green bin, Emlyn?”
“Um, I don’t have a green bin, sorry.”
“You don’t have a green bin?! Don’t be silly. Just run on down to the city hall and pick one up. It’s only ten dollars, and you’ll be doing your part to help save the planet.”
“NO! You can’t make me. I shouldn’t have to recycle to be your friend!” I shouted the words that had been stamped on my brain in elementary school and walked away.
Later that week, another neighbor approached me. “Hi, Emlyn. Hope you’re enjoying the neighborhood. I noticed that you don’t have a green bin.”
“No, I don’t have a green bin. I don’t need one to be cool.” I slammed my garage door in the neighbor’s face as best I could and returned to my clean and trash-filled life.
But the damage had already been done. That night, I did some serious thinking. What if the neighbors were right about recycling? I mean, I was new in town; I wanted them to like me. How much could recycling really hurt me anyway? Was recycling my papers and plastics a gateway habit? Was it only a matter of time before I joined the Peace Corps and converted to a fully Vegan diet?
I know myself, I thought. I can try it just once. If I don’t like it, I don’t have to do it again. I’m stronger than this is!
So I got in my 4-cylinder SUV and drove over to the city hall. “One recycling bin,” I announced to the receptionist while picking at a scab on my elbow. I hoped that she would understand that this wasn’t who I was, that I was just trying it out. I wasn’t a slave to recycling… at least not yet.
Those first few days as a recycler, I fumbled around, trying to figure out what would work to get me my fix and what wouldn’t. Sometimes I would even –gasp- throw away something that was meant for the green bin. One day, my best friend scolded me for being careless with my recycling. I assured her that I was just experimenting with recycling, that I hadn’t made my decision yet.
She told me that this was unacceptable, that no friend of hers was going to be a wishy-washy environmentalist. Then she told me that she was going to show me the right way to do it, that she was going to come over one afternoon and teach me everything I needed to know about getting my fix safely and effectively.
It was one thing if the neighbors didn’t like me or the city hall receptionist thought I was weak-willed, but it was an entirely different thing to risk rejection from my best friend. Okay. That was the turning point. I resigned myself to live a life devoted to recycling, and now I’m an addict. I even pressure others to live my devious life style!
Every Tuesday, you’ll see a green bin in my driveway and a diminished amount of trash in my can. If you venture into my side yard, you’ll notice a compost heap—it’s disgusting but good for the earth. I even signed up to help rescue abandoned baby birds. And, yeah, I like organic food, but I did stop short of Veganism.
In this way, I guess recycling WAS a gateway habit just as I had feared, but it’s not so bad. What were those uniformed police officers talking about? Didn’t they know the *whole truth?* Peer pressure can be a good thing after all, and I’m living proof.
P.S. If you feel the need to print this article, please be sure to recycle the paper when you are through. You should also recycle your ink cartridge when it gets empty and consider recycling your computer to help inner city children once you upgrade your system. 🙂