Oh, I love trash!
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty
Yes, I love trash.
— the prophet oscar the grouch
Can you recycle a Post-it?
I ponder for a second as it hovers over the trash basket. I have a recycle basket and another for everything else. I daily sort stuff into them, though most of the time I’m not absolutely sure if I’m using the right one.
Is yellow paper OK, or should I limit it to white? I’m not sure. The dirty secret at newspapers is that we go through a LOT of paper. I suspect this is because we don’t sell as many copies of the paper as we used to, and we have to do SOMETHING with all the dead trees. Daily, I print the wire budget, the budgets for three or four newspapers, the daily schedule and sundry other reports. We don’t use the word sundry enough in daily conversations. Which is sad, because when I say it, I think of “Sundae” and I like ice cream.
The two waste baskets sit next to each other, which is a good thing because being a waste basket would be a sad, solitary business otherwise. But it’s tricky with paper because I’m a bad shot. I generally have a 50-50 chance of hitting the right bucket. When I don’t, I dutifully fish it out of the trash and move it to recycle.
Should plastic bottles go into recycling? Nobody explained how it works when I started a year ago, but I have adopted my own theory that the blue tub is for paper only. No, plastic, cardboard, car batteries or breakfast burrito wrappers. Solamente paper, nada mas. I have a separate system altogether for recycling the actual breakfast burrito.
The Nice Man empties the trash twice a week, so by the time Saturday rolls around, my tub is almost full. It’s a nostalgic little time capsule of deadlines met, deadlines forgotten, endless reminders of events. Paper, paper and more paper. Yes, I have it on the computer, but there’s just something about printing it out and crossing off items as the evening goes by. I’m nostalgic. I love paper.
By the time Saturday evening rolls around, the recycle basket is almost full. And yes, the yellow paper is in there as well. I’m a rebel. The trash basket has a few Dr Pepper bottles (research has shown that Dr Pepper reduces headline errors by 27 percent and makes me think of Ma whenever I drink one) and some burrito wrappers. Want to be a journalist? All you need are Dr Pepper and burritos and a couple of bad puns. All’s farrier in blacksmith wars.
The Nice Man is coming down my row. I look down to make sure all my paper is in the blue bin. I’m ready.
I say hi, and he says hi back. I think he likes the acknowledgement. It would be a sad, solitary business otherwise. Custodial guys work too hard for too little money.
He reaches down, grabs the trash basket and empties it into the big trash can he wheels around. He then reaches down, grabs the recycle basket and empties it into the same solitary trash can. The burrito wrappers and stacks of paper all say hello to each other after having been separated for several days.
I admire my empty baskets for a moment and then go back to grappling with blacksmith puns. I wonder whether the paper plate for my cake is recyclable. I wish I had ice cream with it. I like ice cream. I might have mentioned that already.