Catastrophic weather events and tax-payer hell are admittedly superior nuisances to one of my latest first-world problems, but I’m not going to let that prevent me from sharing a little recent frustration. Actually, “recent” isn’t strictly accurate, as this is an annoyance that’s been plaguing me for the last year, and my irritation is down to my fellow citizens rather than the faceless powers that be (as far as I know…).
When I moved into this flat, one of the first things I did after sorting out the bills was to contact the council and ask for a recycling bag. This was straightforward. My liberal guilt is not assuaged by the fact that I use only public transport (my black soul yearns for my old Subaru, and if I were richer, I would have it), but it is somewhat appeased by my rabid recycling habit. Glass, plastic, and aluminum are all lovingly washed out and dried next to the sink, to be placed with smug reverence in my Recycling Bag. I rip the plastic windows out of my junkmail to recycle the envelopes, and take anything with my name on to work to shred and return to the holy green bag. I take pride (yes, pride!) in the fact that my two-person household produces half a 13 gallon bag a week of trash. If I had a garden, I would have a compost heap and grow my own herbs, and your eyes would water in the face of my fuckin’ halo.
Basically, recycling not only makes me feel righteous, it just feels right. As a person who actually has apocalyptic nightmares about the world drowning in mountains of trash, this is my last and weakest defense against the coming garbage tsunami, and as a drinker, it is solace. We may consume the contents of the beer and wine, but by god, the packaging is to be used again. Ditto for the oven-ready meals.
As a liberal consumer with liberal culpability, I have to recycle. Just as Hitler was a vegetarian, whatever else I am responsible for inflicting on the environment, I can comfort myself with the fact that at least I am a Dedicated Recycler.
So, I ordered my recycling bag and saved up my recycling for two weeks. When the bag came, I was pleased to hoist up my contributions on the wrought-iron fence outside my flat, representing my own milk and canned-soup habit in the face of my thoughtful neighbors. Despite the fact that I didn’t know any of them, I felt like a part of the conscientious community. It barely registered that I appeared to be the only recycler in my corner-block of four apartments. I was part of the whole solution, after all, and felt a soft glow of togetherness throughout the day, until I returned home that evening after work and my bag was gone. (more…)