Why I recycle

I know that not everyone agrees with me about recycling. (I’m sure some of my friends think I’m nuts.) And I can’t say I agree with everything about recycling. What drives my recycling conscience, what acts as my decision-maker, is the thought of all the things that end up in landfills. What a waste!

Food. Clothes. Appliances and gadgets and devices. Packaging. How much of what we buy is actually product, and how much gets thrown out before we use what we’ve bought?

I’ve been trying to live by my own commandment: Keep it out of the landfill. Don’t buy what I won’t use. Don’t replace what still works. Don’t throw away what can be reused. (Does anyone else remember “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”?)

I was brought up not to waste. My mom was the daughter of immigrants, the youngest of four kids. She grew up in the inner city. Her father died when she was in junior high, so she dropped out of school. (She spent the rest of her life educating herself, and she did a terrific job.) She knew how not to waste — it was a matter of survival — and she made sure her kids did, too.

Disposable plastic food bags, the kind that come in a roll in a box, were a new thing when I was a kid. We weren’t allowed to throw away the used bags: we washed and reused them. I quit doing that when I moved into my first apartment. (Sorry, Mom. But I very seldom use plastic bags any more. Honest!)

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