Wait a minute, Mr. Recycle Man

"There seems to be a deeply embedded uneasiness in our culture about throwing away…what can be reused….Perhaps it feels unnatural. Mother Nature doesn't throw stuff away. Dead trees, birds, beetles…are pretty quickly recycled by the system."

 William Booth, Salvation Army founder

Dear Mr. Recycle Man,

My name's Paula, and I'm on your route. I'm turning 60 this year, and I'm sharing this because everybody knows, so you might as well, too. When you get to be my age, life seems more finite, since you have more years under your belt than what lies ahead.

Naturally, you start worrying about what you will leave behind. For me, I don't want my footprint to be littered with garbage that I could have recycled.

 If you've wondered why I take time to separate trash from recycling, well, now you know. It may appear to you that there's precious little to be said about what I toss away – if you only knew. Those fresh spinach bags? Spinach is my all-time favorite vegetable and the first one I remember gobbling as a child.  Love it to this day.

If you haven't guessed by all of those empty yogurt cups, cranberry juice jugs, baby carrot bags, broccoli wrappers, frozen vegetable bags, strawberry crates and soy milk containers, I'm a little bit of a health nut. As much as I'm hooked on keeping my waistline, a never-ending battle I might add, I admit my sugarless and starch-less way of life can be pretty boring.

Suppose you've noticed that my bin is void of soda pop and alcohol bottles. It's not that I'm against all that. I'm not really crazy about carbonated beverages, save A&W Root Beer, and I'm allergic to the sulfa in alcohol.

Regarding those spotless ground Italian sausage wrappers, no, I didn't scrub them before tossing them out. I'm a little OCD, but not quite that over the top! Credit my three fur-ball Dachshunds for licking them clean. Same goes for the Styrofoam trays from steaks and chops.

With all those empty Spic and Span, Windex and Mr. Clean bottles, you're probably also thinking that I'm a neat-nick. Kind of.

Anyway, because the amount I recycle is greater than what I throw away, I have difficulty fitting all of it into those tiny bins. Maybe if they were as large as trash bins and trash bins as small as recycle bins, we'd all throw away less and recycle more.  Now, there's an idea!

You're probably wondering if I'm writing a book with all the edited drafts that I churn out every week. Well, yes, I am working on a second book, and I do write and edit for a living. You see, writing is a far-from-perfect process often replete with draft after draft after draft. As Annie Dillard once said, "Good reading is hard writing."

What do I write about? Everyday things. I tend to focus on passages, the losses and acquisitions of treasured or not so treasured people, places and things.

If you read my drafts, it's OK. Don't waste any time saving them in case I'm famous someday. I used to think that would happen, but as time goes by, I have my doubts.

One of these days, you may see a stack of old greeting cards, years' worth from my mother's collection. Why haven't I tossed them yet? I'm on the fence. Sometimes, I think, why not. They're old. She's gone. Plus, I'm tired of being reminded how quickly the years passed. Throwing Mom's cards could be the fastest way to momentarily cure my longing for her, but I know I'd regret it.

As soon as you haul them away, I'd chase after, hollering, "No! Stop! I didn't mean to. I'm sorry."You probably wouldn't hear me. Well, I'd better stop rambling so you can get on your way doing your part to save the planet. 

Have a good one…

Yours truly, Paula

2012 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contests, her columns have earned eight first-place awards. To contact Paula, email  boscodamon.paula@gmail, follow her blog at my-story-your-story@blogspot.com and find her on FaceBook.

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