The greatest thing happened in November when a local Boy Scout dropped off our chocolate caramel crunch popcorn that David had ordered. He also gave us a letter about a recycling pick up service he was starting. The stars had aligned!
We recycle everything. And I mean everything. Just ask David. He'll tell you about the many times that I have looked confused as he went to put a slip of paper or yogurt cup in the garbage. Or our 6 year old asking in a heartbreaking voice while we were on vacation in Washington D.C. "Why don't D.C. people recycle?" as a tourist put her water bottle in the garbage can. I was just happy to see someone holding it long enough to find a garbage can and not just leaving it on a park bench.
But recycling hasn't always been our way. I wanted to a few years ago but we live just outside the city limits and we don't have recycling pick up. I also was confused about what COULD be recycled and what couldn't. I'd heard horror stories of showing up at the recycling center and getting a lecture about mixing in non-recyclables with the recyclables. On top of the confusion, a few years ago we had enough on our plates with new positions at work, being back in the States, Brennan struggling in pre-school. Recyling was just another "to do" in my wish list.
Then I took a leave of absence and a world of unscheduled time landed in my lap. Immediately we started recycling. And it became addictive. I've kept empty water bottles in my purse to recycle when I get home if I'm out and can't find a recycling bin. Of course, it was easy for the boys - they learn all about recycling at school and it just seems obvious to them.
We recycle everything. Paper (every scrap) goes to the school paper recycle bin to raise money for field trips and playground equipment and supplies. Metal, glass, and plastic goes in one large bin in the garage and we cart that to a recycling bin in the back of the Kroger parking lot. Cardboard goes to the recycling center. Coke can pop tops, Box Tops, Campbell's soup labels, empty printer cartridges, old cell phones and computer equipment, and Nestle water bottle labels go to the schools for the monthly inter-classroom competitions they run. Outgrown clothes go to Sans Souci or Goodwill. No-longer-needed furniture goes to friends or the domestic violence shelter. Toys go to the Firemen's Cheer Fund.
And, yes, all of this takes its toll. Now that I am back at work, recycling has become somewhat of a chore again. And now it's not a chore that my mind can see as optional. Ugh. Who needs another chore. I couldn't believe it but I was questioning whether we needed to recycle everything. How could I take something off my to do list?
Enter Daniel. Daniel is an enterprising 13 year old who started a business to collect neighbors' recycling every Thursday. For $5/month. I mean. What could be better? I still get to recycle. The boys see that we think this is important enough to continue doing even though it's a little bit of a hassle. David and I don't have to cart all of our stuff each week to the various locations. I get to support an enterprising young person. Daniel earns some money and learns the responsibility of having a job where people count on him. And $5/month - soooo worth it to me!
So a big thank you to Daniel who came in the nick of time and taught me a lesson about keeping a commitment that I made to myself even when it's no longer convenient. And yes, I may miss the long suffering recycling center man who shakes his head as he comes to my window to remind me that the cardboard oatmeal canister cannot be recycled since it has fused metal labels on it. I'll let him have those discussions with Daniel.