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Judy Kucharuk: They checked my recycling for contraband

Let us file the following under why we can’t have nice things: Curbside recycling.

Let us file the following under why we can’t have nice things: Curbside recycling.

Why oh why can’t we get it right? There are lists, pictograms, and more to help us in making good decisions when separating trash from recycling and yet we still fail to follow simple instructions. Truck load after truck load gets infiltrated with non-recyclables or *gag* dirty diapers and it puts the program in jeopardy.

Until recently I was very ‘holier than thou’ regarding our recycling bin. We stuck to the easy stuff like cardboard and bottles and cans. For us, that was doable. When I would see the recycling team (in Dawson Creek we have the Trash Panda’s) checking recycling bins, I was very confident that I would get a gold star (they do not give out gold stars). I would lament on the fact that we needed to have people checking our recycling for contraband saying, “Come on people – it is not that difficult.”

Until last week. When I got home from work, hubby said, “Yeah, we got a wee bit of a warning about our recycling today.”

I was shocked – how could we have screwed up this bi-weekly task? You never want someone who goes by the moniker ‘Panda’ to be angry with you!
Hubby explained that there were plastic straws in our bin, and I think we had an errant soft plastic item.

Small items – Yes. Non-recyclable – Yes. Easy mistake – Yes. Mess up the entire system – Probably.

In one fell swoop we were no better than the folks who had been placing their used cat litter in their recycling bin. So much for my holier than thou attitude.

They left us with a card that outlines everything that can be placed in the cart and some reminders about what doesn’t go into the cart.

The experience spiraled into a ‘deep thoughts’ moment about my generation and how we have royally screwed up the environment. All I could think of was forest fires, flooding, and the recent heat wave, which then escalated into a paralyzing fear that if we couldn’t do something as simple as distinguish between hard and soft plastic, we may be deserving of the ire of Mother Nature.

Couple this with the fact that our priorities are so screwed up that we live in a world where someone would choose to spend millions of dollars to figure out how to get paying customers a flight into space (I am looking at you Richard Branson) instead of figuring out a fool-proof system where luggage arrives with you at your designation, or… hmmmm, getting COVID-19 vaccines or a safe water supply to Third World countries. It depressed me.

While I cannot control starry-eyed millionaires, I can learn how to separate my recycling properly which is just one small step in ensuring the longevity of a livable planet.

But before I pat myself on the back about figuring out what bin to use, I must realize that we are well past taking the baby steps required to ensure a future for our grandchildren.

That is depressing.

Judy Kucharuk lives and writes in Dawson Creek.