David McConkey - Columnist, Consultant, Citizen
Columnist. Consultant. Citizen.

The “Dark Side” of Recycling?

Brandon Sun, February 5, 2004 - David McConkey

One aspect of recycling has surprised me. I learned it early on in my 13 years in the business. Recycling is bad for marriages. I call it the “dark side.”

Recycling is also hard on roommates and anyone who shares a living space with someone else. You see, recycling brings out both the good and the bad in people. Let me explain.

One person wants to help the environment by recycling. That sounds OK in theory, but what about the practice? It means a collection of newspapers, cans, and bottles in the kitchen, back porch, or garage. But often that person lets things pile up.
 
Enter the other person, who sees nothing wrong with saving the earth, but wants to save the home first — not to mention saving the sanity of the household.

Recycling brings out the differences in people: practical vs. philosophical, action-oriented vs. procrastinating.

I bet recycling could even be used like the “Myers-Briggs” or other personality test to divide people into groups like the “tidy realist” vs. the “messy dreamer.”

Recycling seems somewhat unattractive to some people, quite appealing to others.

Keep your garbage around to fiddle with, clean, and sort through? Sounds crazy to some people. To others it is somewhat delightful.

To some, recycling is an affront to modern progress, as represented by the throwaway society. To others, it evokes almost fond memories or stories heard about days long ago — making do and living frugally.

Some can quote that they heard recycling is somewhat of a scam. Perhaps they read that chapter in Michael Moore’s book Stupid White Men.

Others like to recite benefits of recycling.

I encountered the “dark side” phenomenon and its effects on marriages years ago. We had the weekly recycling depot on the Shoppers Mall parking lot.

One Saturday we had to inform people that we had run out of room. Could they please store their recyclables for a week? Some simply said: “No problem.” They would just keep their recyclables in their car trunk until next time.

But others would have none of it. These were the ones who had quite enough of the recycling piles. They were cleaning out their house and they were not going to let anything get in their way.

I was told where I could put my recycling!

I could only imagine earlier discussions at home. I may be politically incorrect to say, but I sense more women than men are avid recyclers. On that Saturday, more of the grumpy people seemed to be men. They were men who wanted to be quickly on their way, to the golf course, perhaps.

I think these guys had struck deals with their wives. They could go golfing if they dropped off recyclables on the way. There was also more than a hint of “Real Men Don’t Recycle.”

Since then, I have felt somewhat badly for the marital discord caused by recycling. But there is at least a partial answer. Now, with the more convenient program in Brandon, there is a greater chance for tidier homes and saner people.

Blue bag recyclables and send them out with your trash. No more piles. No more trips — except we ask you take glass to a depot to avoid worker injury.

I even heard one happy recycler report, that, because of the ease of new system, he had even trained his wife to recycle.

Good. The dark side may be getting lighter.
 
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See also:  

Blue Bag System Abruptly Abandoned

Brand-New It's Shiny, But That Waste Isn't Tiny

Welcome to the World of Sustainability

Citizen Active

 



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David McConkey,
Brandon, Manitoba
204-726-9440
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