The Other I

February 17, 2009

Born recyclers

Filed under: Survival Strategies — theotheri @ 9:56 pm

Recycling is considered responsible and virtuous these days, and I can compete with the best in not throwing things into the trash.  But I fear my recycling doesn’t spring from responsible virtue.

I have a sister and a brother who, like me, seem to be born recyclers.  It is important, here to make a distinction between recycling and collecting.  To the untutored eye, they may look suspiciously similar.  But the essence of recycling isn’t to let things lie dormant while they increase in size, if not in value.  The essence of recycling is to find another purpose for the presently defunct item.

It’s the challenge of finding another use for something that is perfectly sound but no longer needed in its present form.  So I have made waste baskets out of lamp shades and the bucket of a broken ice cream maker.  I have made a newspaper rack from an old log carrier, a wood box from an old tv stand, skirts from dresses that are no longer fashionable.  I’ve used wine corks to line plant pots, and egg trays to keep nails and screws in assorted groups.  Etc.  You get the idea.

I am not married to a natural recycler, and so I can’t just slap anything together and call it recycled.  It’s got to look good, fit into the decor, and somehow be useful.   I will admit that being married to Peter has definitely raised my game.

I used to think I was a recycler because I was trying to save money.  But that really isn’t it.  It’s the challenge that I can’t resist.

And as I think about Darwin and the theory of evolution, it does seem to me that quite possibly it is the recyclers who inherit the earth.  Birds build nests out of bits and pieces they pick up here and there.  Man made his first tools out of rocks he (or she) that were laying around, and caves – which weren’t sold in the first place as housing – were our first shelters.

Today recyclers are in great demand for turning our garbage into ev erything from energy to shopping bags, packaging, compressed shelving, and shipping crates.

They are even using recycled material to produce toilet paper.  Now there’s an achievement a born recycler can be proud of.

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