Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Little Trash Talk...

By Jim Heffernan

As perceptive readers (i.e. the unblind) might have noticed, I am spending February and part of March in Florida. We are in what is called “The Panhandle,” although it doesn’t look any more like any panhandle I’ve ever seen than the Big and Little Dippers look like any double dippers I have known.

(Historical digression: The Big Dipper was not killed in a plane crash shortly after performing in Duluth 50 years ago; that was the Big Bopper, who looked more like a dipper than a panhandle.)

But to my point. It might come as a surprise to northern Minnesotans – any Minnesotan, really – to learn that they do not formally recycle around here, or informally recycle for that matter. I saw a billboard the other day with the word R-E-C-Y-C-L-E emblazoned across it, and in small letters below it said “learn how…” and offered a Web site.

Those of us who live in Northeastern Minnesota do not need to learn how to recycle. I suppose there are a few scofflaws the environmental police haven’t rounded up yet, but most of us are pretty careful about recycling.

In our home, we are VERY careful about it. Down here on the Florida Panhandle you throw everything into the garbage that you would normally recycle at home in Minnesota. Beer cans, plastic milk bottles, newspapers, magazines, cardboard package wrappings – they all go into the garbage here with the spent coffee grounds and gooey table scraps.

When you come here from the Duluth area, it is somewhat liberating and strangely exciting to suddenly and almost guiltlessly toss recyclables into the trash willy-nilly – you have no choice. It feels almost deliciously sinful if you are used to dividing up your recyclables and putting them out each week.

As I stated, in our household we are careful about recycling everything recyclable, and that includes that little cylindrical cardboard core, or axle, on toilet tissue rolls. Taking the trouble to recycle those has always seemed a bit much to me, but we do it because it is cardboard and we are responsible recyclers. After all, I am a former Boy Scout.

The other day when that very matter came to my attention, I realized that with the empty TP axle in hand, I could simply throw it in the wastepaper basket, the contents of which would end up in the garbage can and into Florida’s solid waste stream.

So that is the great thing about Florida: You don’t have to recycle toilet paper roll cores. Come on down.

No comments: