I need to call a foul on Team Green. I’m on the side of Mother Earth, and I think she would agree with me.
This is about recycling and responsibility. To explain my frustration, I want to recollect a school fieldtrip that I chaperoned for my third grader’s class. It was at a nature center where we manhandled milkweed pods, acted like trees, and pretended to migrate. It was all standard. There was nothing unorthodox or militant about it. Then, it was time for lunch.
Sixty plus children nibbled sandwiches and sucked juice boxes dry. Then an elderly man appeared with six white buckets and big ideas on how “we” were to discard our lunch trash. With deadly serious expression and stern commands he launched into a complex set of instructions: Separate dirty napkins from clean napkins. Separate caps from bottles. Separate the bread from the innards of uneaten sandwich remnants. He wanted us to take special note of the peanut butter and jelly variety of sandwich, as if this menu item doesn’t suffer enough stigma and regulation. Peanut butter can be composted but jelly cannot. He added a footnote to his manifesto. There were too many wasps by the compost.
At this point I wondered who had the Epipens. I wondered if he had ever spent time with children. I wondered if discarding our lunch would take well past three o’clock dismissal.
Undaunted by the growing looks of panic and frustration by the moms in the room, he heaped even more instructions on the youngsters. Yogurt cups should be licked clean and placed in bucket three. By the way, all buckets were nondescript, white, and sans number identification. And then the final straw (pardon the pun) was the Capri Sun sleeves. The straw should go in bucket three, the wrapper of the straw in bucket one, and THE SLEEVE NEEDED TO GO BACK HOME because it had an entirely different method of recycling.
Guess who would become the steward of that sticky envelope? I’ll give you a hint. She goes by one name, and it’s a palindrome. I wanted to stop him right there and yell No! Did he realize he was addressing wiggly children who have to keep three records of what they read each day and record the minutes? Did he know they must do a sport, learn an instrument, take religion classes, and engage in free-range play? Was he aware the other members of the audience, public school teachers, are now responsible for cleaning their own rooms, charting the progress of each student on some cockamamie standardized test, and just trying to hold their families together on a pittance? Finally, the moms who were about to take trash home probably did more work before six am than it took to wash all of those godforsaken buckets.
All I’m saying is that recycling cannot be more complicated than a tax return. These “simple” extra steps become the responsibility of guess who? A MOM. And I got news for you earth inhabitants, her plate is full. If I did everything I was supposed to do in a day, I’d still be in the shower doing a self-breast exam. Instead, I’m hawking pizzas and chocolate bars for a school fundraiser. I’m organizing carpools and trying to find a dinner that everyone in the family will eat.
The current trend of recycling isn’t practical. I cannot perform minor surgery on my garbage. I cannot maintain a rotting mass of pig slop in my yard. I cannot have seven different pails of trash in my garage when I have three cars, five bikes, two scooters, and 47 deflated balls.
Somewhere along the way the consumer got tricked. The onus is not on the consumer (who inevitably is the Mom), it is on the manufacturer. Moms have enough to do.
Mother Earth will tell you herself, you cannot rely on Mommy to do this for you, someday she may not be there.