Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

It seems like everywhere I go these days, I’m being handed a reusable bag.  Similar to plastic bags, I feel that I have to take every one I’m offered and store them away in the house only to go out and get more.  So many places are starting to ban plastic bags which makes the production of reusable bags that much more addictive.  Every company has them, every store, every festival passes them out like candy.  I get the first reusable bag so that I can tote around the 12 other reusable bags I get while walking around.  I have a stack of them in the car.  Another stack in the closet in the house.  They come in varying shapes and sizes, colors and textures.  I was proud of myself yesterday however.  I was at another said festival when I took one bag.  I took it because a woman came up to me and offered it to me, explaining that there was a bottle of water in it along with some coupons.  Who doesn’t want free bottled water and coupons?  I smiled, thanked her and then looked at the bag.  It was from a retailer I despise.  Dilemma.  I secretly wanted the bag because it had WATER IN IT AND COUPONS!  I love coupons.  Hmm, but they were probably coupons to the place I don’t like to shop at.  I didn’t care.   I put the bag up on my shoulder but turned it so that the company name was on the inside facing me.  That way, the few hundred people that were also getting the same bag wouldn’t know that it was from THAT store.  I carried it around all day.  I did put other material in it but I refused all other bags!

Today, I saw that bag sitting on the counter loaded down with all the business cards, handouts, booklets, stickers and such that I’d accumulated all day yesterday.  I lifted the handle to peer inside.  I started pulling out the random items.  A nice reusable water bottle that I disassembled and placed in the sink to wash later.  A wind jacket from a software company – nice.  I proceeded to make piles from the other stuff.  Papers, pamphlets, business cards to the recycle bin, toys to the donation box, plastic things to the recycle bin.

Once I’d emptied the bag, I folded it and added it as well to the donation box.  I don’t need it but I didn’t want to throw it away. Then I wondered how many of them end up in the landfill.  It can’t be as many as plastic bags, right?  I probably have 20 to 30 of the reusable bags in my possession.  That’s probably a similar amount of plastic bags that I used to harbor.  Makes me wonder.

So, with that chore being done, I decide to fix myself some lunch.  No leftovers in the fridge from last night since I didn’t cook because we were at the festival.  I poked my head in the freezer and found a frozen Lean Cuisine.  I popped it in the microwave and grabbed a soda.  It wasn’t bad.  When I was done, I put my can in the recycle container and then looked for the recycle symbol on the bottom of the plastic container.  It was there so I went to the sink to rinse it.  I reached for the handle to turn on the water but stopped just before I reached it.  If we’re in such a drought, should I use the water to rinse my recyclable?  Another dilemma.  What’s worse – no water or filled landfills?  The exhaust from the recycleries must cause poor air quality, right?  I think about these things.  Do the right thing!  Well, what the hell is the right thing?  I cook on the grill so that I don’t heat my house so that I don’t waste electricity running the A/C and then my neighbor complains about that.  Someone, somewhere, is getting their feelings hurt because I’m sitting on the sofa using electricity for my laptop to complain about god knows what.  Ugh.  I rinsed the plastic and tossed it into the recycle bin.  Damned if you do.  Damned if you don’t.

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