Turning Hippie: A Recycling Story

One day, not too long ago, I had an epiphany.

It went something like this…..

I should recycle this plastic bottle. 

You think I’m joking, but I’m not. That was my epiphany. So I did.

And then I thought….why stop there? We drink soda (don’t yell at me), so I can recycle those too. We can recycle beer bottles. AND PLASTIC. And cardboard, and paper. Oh the possibilities….

So I grabbed a bag, and told Jimmie, hey let’s recycle for a week. I’ll take it to work, and put it in the recycle bins there (we don’t get curbside service). I’ll take care of it, and if it’s too much of a hassle we can stop.

Guys….it was disgusting. I should have taken a picture of it, but it was disgusting. And the worst part is, I know we didn’t get everything we could have. We’re STILL probably not getting everything we could…but oh my gosh, when I looked at that bag, and then thought about how we’ve been throwing that away every week for YEARS….I just wanted to throw up.

We ended up with two bins full. In one week. Disgusting. Or uplifting, depending on how you look at it I suppose.

I really don’t know what caused it. I wasn’t reading anything, I wasn’t looking up horrible statistics about how much trash we put in landfills every year, I wasn’t talking to anyone. I just all of a sudden decided one measly little bottle needed to be recycled, and since I was going to do that, why not do it for a week?

I want to go back and punch my younger self in the face.

Anyway, we’ve since found a better place to take our recycling, and even though I cringe every time we throw glass bottles into the bin, it makes me feel better. Jimmie says it’s a pain in the ass, but does it anyway because he’s awesome. Truthfully I think he’s secretly hoping this will just be a phase, one of my short-lived bright ideas…..but now that I’ve seen the difference we can make, I’m sticking with it.

I finally got the nerve to look up some stats. The EPA estimates that about 35% of all recyclable material is actually recycled. That’s not great, but when you consider that in 1980 it was 10%, we’re doing better. But that still doesn’t account for the rest of it.

Another fun fact? It takes 700 years for plastic bottles to decompose. 700 years. When I think of all the bottles I’ve thrown away….and I’m just one person. Now no plastic is safe. Shampoo bottles, takeout containers, plastic wrap…it’s all getting recycled. From what I can gather, there are a lot of places that won’t take certain plastics – however, ours takes anything numbered 1-7. Let me tell you, there’s a lot of plastic out there that can be recycled.

We’ve also started composting, though to be perfectly honest, I think we’ve done a really bad job at it. We need to build a bin – right now we’ve got a tub, and it’s not doing so well. I’m pretty grossed out by it, so I’ll spare you the details. *shudder*

And, I’ve been cutting down on chemicals when I can, making my own cleaning solutions and switching to organic/natural products. It’s not easy, and it’s also driving Jimmie crazy, but it’s making me happy. And I haven’t even started on other ways of reducing our carbon footprint like programmable thermostats and light switches.

He jokingly tells me I’m turning into a hippie, and in a way I suppose he’s right.

I’ve already got the wavy hair down….now to just get the tattoo…


  1. I will not throw a glass bottle away!! I have boxes of them!! I found a use for them with a glue and tissue and they make great gifts!! My teenagers love doing crafts. Now you have me thinking about what else I can do? Thank You!!

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