It’s down to the last straw

Columnist Glenn Mitchell is working on his recycling habits

I try to recycle. I probably don’t qualify for sainthood in the church of the three ‘Rs’ or anything but I do try.

We have a composter in the backyard, we use our two blue boxes, although they should be recycled themselves soon but I’m too cheap to replace them because I figure they should be free like the first two, but when I tried to pick one up the other day and the handle broke allowing the box to fall on my foot, twice, I almost broke down and bought a couple for plastic and metal and paper.

See: Vernon pilots organic recycling

We even take glass jars to the recycling centre, but that’s not as convenient as it used to be.

My wife’s even got me recycling plastic wrap around food, again to the recycling centre, which is a bit of work if you ask me but, hey, we’re saving the planet here folks, one piece of plastic at a time.

I even do my best to recycle Keurig coffee pods, but really who am I kidding ‘cause if I really cared about Mother Earth I wouldn’t be using a disposable one-time-use system in the first place.

However I guess I feel a little better when I take my glasses off and try to find the arrow, if there is one, where it’s supposed to be easier to separate the coffee pod that you throw away from the plastic container that you can recycle.

I have a 10-minute rule, though, so if I can’t separate them by then they get to live together in eternity at the local landfill, guilt-free. Like I said, I’m no ecological hero.

I have a similar rule for 475-millilitre salad dressing containers. If I can’t get the bottom of the Thousand Island container clean in 10 minutes or after 4,750 litres of rushing tap water, whichever comes first, I bail on the planet.

I rationalize it by saying I’m saving another 12,000 litres of water by sacrificing one small plastic bottle—a good trade for Mother Earth or not?

Now you may wonder how I live with myself in these politically correct times, and I guess you would be right, after all I’ve already confessed some of my sins (yes, there’s likely more) so how could I expect any mercy?

And that’s the thing. When it comes to hard-core environmentalists there is no room for mercy.

See: Vernon school digs up $2,500 recycling prize

The world was born, then we came along and screwed it up, pretty much end of story in every sense of the phrase.

It’s become a religion, except unlike most religions there’s no chance of redemption, no matter how hard you try the guilt is always there.

The federal Liberals have just announced a potential ban on one-time-use plastic bags, straws and cutlery, if they get elected of course (a little late to the game and more than a little political but…), which is all fine and good but it doesn’t come into effect until 2021.

Meantime, some stores charge five cents for plastic bags now, allowing them to look like they care about the planet while making a tidy profit in the exchange, or people bring their own cloth bags (that may or may not get cleaned out on a regular basis), or the customer does a juggling act with his seven to nine items while looking like he cares and saving a dime at the same time.

I usually forget my cloth bags in the car and once you’re in the lineup you’re forced to decide—pay and you and the environment lose or juggle and save the planet but potentially lose the eggs.

See: B.C. Views: Reality of our plastic recycling routine revealed

It’s when they ask “Need any bags today?” in that tone that implies if you do you’re pond scum that sometimes gets to me.

So I have some questions:

Why are straws suddenly Public Enemy No. 1 after all these decades? Maybe we should have figured out they could hurt sea animals, oh, a couple billion straws or so ago?

I kind of get the plastic bags thing, although they come in handy on the home front on occasion, but what about going back to paper bags which I’m sure are more environmentally friendly and could be produced here in B.C.?

Shouldn’t we be going after bigger targets like the plastic that holds a six-pack of beer cans together, or the dry cleaning industry, or Amazon and others that ship all that stuff with all that packaging, or even restaurants that used to supply mints and fortune cookies sans plastic (hard to imagine now actually), or even the toilet paper we buy that’s wrapped together in plastic and then individually as well (I know, don’t have to buy that kind)?

Glenn Mitchell is the former editor of the Vernon Morning Star

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