Thursday, May 19, 2011

Crazy recycling lady

Did you know I’m famous? I even have my own commercial!

OK, so maybe it isn't me... If you are from the great Pacific Northwest, you are likely familiar with the "Northwest Profiles" commercial series from PEMCO Insurance. If you've never had the pleasure of seeing these commercials, you should really take a moment to click on the ones I have posted in this entry. I have seen every one of the characters in the series and they are hilarious to watch because they are so absolutely true to the northwest! I swear I've seen all of these people in some form or another around town before! You can view all of the characters
As an aside, I may also bear a very slight stunningly similar resemblance to the "Super-Long Coffee Orderer."  

But, I digress.
The “Relentless Recycler” is an avid recycler, bordering on the OCD side of life with her zeal for sustainability. I have a real passion for many environmental issues, particularly since my husband’s cancer diagnosis and my boys’ diagnosis on the autism spectrum. And, I have been known to gush about my love of recycling from time to time. I know I’m weird, but that makes me extra cool! ;-) Right? Well, maybe in my own head anyway. If I had the same amount of space this Relentless Recycler gal had in her garage, I might be just as awesome bad as her!
To bring things into perspective, you should probably know that I grew up in Oregon. Have you ever heard of the Bottle Bill? Passed in 1971, Oregon's Bottle Bill imposed a 5-cent container deposit on each canned or bottled beverage. You would pay the deposit when you purchased your soda or beer, and then you would gather up all of the empty cans and bottles to redeem for a cash refund. After all, you were a good recycler and a good Oregonian at that! One great effect of the legislation was that it helped to significantly reduce littering.  
Recycling cans and bottles was a great way for a young gal such as myself to earn a little spending money for things like candy bars and other childhood treats. I would gather our family's recycling together with whatever cans and bottles I found as litter. When the pile got large enough my parents would take me to the grocery store to go return them all. I would head to the back of the store where they accepted the cans and bottles and a guy would take them, counting and sorting them into large bins. It was always exciting to find out how much I had earned when he’d write up my redemption slip. I’d take the slip up to the front of the store and the cashier would pay me that amount. It was the beginning of my love for recycling.
Now I live in Washington state and we don't have a Bottle Bill here. I am happy to say that not all that long ago our local refuse company began single bin recycling (where you can throw everything recyclable into one large, mixed container). This makes life much simpler than a few years ago when I was still diligently sorting things into their separate containers. My boys are happy to help toss things into the bin as they accumulate. And, I am happy to say that we recycle at least twice as much as we throw away, if not much more!
The one problem with the single bin system is that they no longer accept glass bottles and jars as part of our regular recycling program. We go through a LOT of glass at our house, particularly with all of the organic products we use. Glass is a popular vessel for all of the crunchy environmentally-conscious companies that make many of the products we buy. So, I continue to sort out the glass containers and then take them to a recycling station. It’s always fun for my boys to help me sort the glass into their clear, brown and green bins when we get there.
I’ve even gotten my neighbor’s daughter involved in glass recycling. I babysit her on occasion and one of those times the glass recycling crates in my garage were overflowing. I asked her if she’d like to accompany me to the recycling station. She was super excited to go on a little excursion with me in the car and then help me sort the glass when we got there. It was so cute! She chattered about it in the car all the way back home. When she got picked up that afternoon she told her mom about our adventure and asked me when we would go recycle glass again. Now, almost every time I see her she asks me if I have any glass that needs to be recycled and if she can help. I think I may have a recycling protégé!     

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