Reduce, Reuse….why bother?

I grew up recycling.  In the late 80’s when I was a teenager, I lived in a small town which boasted (for several years) the highest recycling rate per capita in the U.S.  That was back in the day when recycling was way more work than it is now; we had to remove paper labels from cans and pick those ridiculous plastic windows out of envelopes. 

 For the next 23 years I lived in towns where recycling is mandatory.  A stray tin can in your trash would result in a $10 fine and the humiliation of being told you could only bring your trash in clear plastic bags from that day forward. 

Times have changed and recycling is easier than ever.   Times have changed and I live in an area that hasn’t made recycling mandatory.  Yet.

When I first moved to Downeast Maine, I asked about recycling facilities.  Some folks told me there was “no such thing” here.  Others knew there was “something like that somewhere” and one woman said with a smile, “You don’t have to recycle here.  Why bother?”

As I unpacked cardboard boxes with my posessions wrapped carefully in newspaper, I felt at a loss.  What was I supposed to do with all this very recyclable stuff?    I literally shuddered at the thought of a small mountain of paper and cardboard piled high, waiting for curbside pick up.

Friends and relatives called to see how the settling in process was going and  I ranted incessantly about the supposed lack of recycling facilities in the area.  It was inconcievable to me, after 23 years of recycling, that I would just toss a tin can or magazine in the kitchen trash can.  My friends and family understood; they have been recycling just as long as I have.

On the phone with my sister, I asked, “How am I supposed to do this?  I’m just supposed to throw this newspaper in the trash?”

And that is exactly what I did.  Bag after bag of junk mail, newspapers, magazines, tin cans, milk jugs and cardboard went curbside for pick up.  It went against everything I stood for, against everything I had been taught.

“Ridiculous,” I thought. 

“This is outrageous,” I ranted, week after week. 

I was a single person dragging an average of four bags of trash to the curb every week

I settled in to my new home and prepared to pick up the recycling banner.  If there wasn’t a facility, I would start one.

If you don’t know me, let me tell you one thing:  when I get on a tear it’s not a pretty sight.

As it turns out, I didn’t have to start a recycling facility.  After all my irritation, frustration and annoyance, I discovered a recycling center two miles from my house.  I am back to sorting my recyclables and not even complaining about having to scrub out the peanut butter jars.  I’m also happily carrying out less than a bag of trash a week.  Maybe not perfect but a heck of a lot better than four bags a week.

Unfortunately it appears that very few people here “bother” to recycle.  In these times when global warming and carbon footprint are household words (take a quiz to measure your carbon footprint here),
I can’t imagine why people wouldn’t recycle. And I will never understand a “why bother” attitude.

Take a look around, you non-recyclers, the planet is in trouble and it’s your duty to help turn things around….  start today.


5 responses to “Reduce, Reuse….why bother?

  1. Sorry to pop you bubble, but for most of the world recycle boils down to
    1. What can I us this stuff for? If I can’t us it, to the dumpster it go’s.
    2. What’s in it for me? If they won’t pay me for saving, sorting, hauling this junk, why should I?
    And don’t blame it on just the more developed countries, this is a world wide attitude!

  2. livingdowneast

    I agree with you but one can always hope!

  3. Ginnie and Barb Shannon

    I live in Lubec. What you don’t tell us is WHERE this recycling center is located. I desperately need one! Are you willing to share your find?


    • Hi Ginnie and Barb,

      I don’t know if Lubec has a recycling center, but in Eastport it’s located at the city garage on County Road. I can’t imagine they wouldn’t let you bring your items. It’s only open Saturdays 11 – 2, I believe.

    • Hi Ginnie and Barb, I don’t know if Lubec has a recycling center, but I can’t imagine Eastport would turn you away.  There’s no permit or anything required.  The recycling center is located on Route 190 (County Rd) at the city garage (a big blue building with a “City of Eastport” sign out front.   Recycling is only done on Saturdays, I believe 11-2p.  They don’t take glass unless it has a deposit on it.  Otherwise, it’s paper, plastic, cardboard etc.  The sale of the recycled material goes toward the Shead High School Senior class trip, I think.  The students work the recycling center and even unload it for you. Good luck! Elaine

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