Friday, July 31, 2009

My Spouse Won't Commingle!

drunk in recycling binOur city is a full month into this new-fangled single-stream recycling and, frankly, this has not been my hoped-for Miracle of the Blue Bin.

Single-stream, for those still unaware or unconverted, allows for papers, plastics and metals to mix and mingle in perfect harmony regardless of the color of the recycling bin in which they reside.

Newspapers and tuna tins.

Milk jugs and junk mail.

Cardboard and soda cans living together!

Mass hysteria!

Those are not the only taboos now broken. Formerly forbidden items such as egg cartons, paperboard milk and juice containers and non-corrugated cardboard have made their peace with us, too. The city's new recycling company will gladly dump them all into their white trucks with a bone-shattering thunder that, while quite similar to the dumping sound made by the city's old recycling company, now shocks you awake around 6 a.m. once a week with a far more environmentally friendly type of bed-wetting fear.

Everyone loves single-stream recycling. Environmentalists cheer because it should hasten efforts to save our planet and precious resources. City officials do their public happy dances because they expect it to save about $300,000 a year.

Yet, single-stream recycling fails in one grave way. It is not saving my marriage.

My Love and I are nowhere near an appearance with Judge Toler on "Divorce Court," mind you. But a spot on an upcoming "Jerry Springer" episode called "My Spouse Won't Commingle!" -- well, that's a possibility.

See, we each have our foibles. Among mine is using words such as "foibles." Among hers is not being able to separate trash from treasure when it comes to the good of our planet.

Many a time I have wandered into the garage to find a lipstick-smeared Aquafina bottle in a bin clearly marked "For Mixed Paper Recycling Only" or seethed at a shampoo bottle in our bathroom receptacle. I'm obsessive compulsive that way, sort of the Adrian Monk of household recycling, though my perky blond sidekick is a 3-year-old Labrador retriever.

That's why I held such hope for the single-stream movement. I posted the city's detailed brochure on what is and isn't recyclable on the cabinet nearest our kitchen trash. I explained to My Love that nearly everything now went to the recycling bin, key exceptions being foodstuffs normally consumed by humans or non-food stuffs abnormally consumed by our dog, such as batteries, crayons and compact discs.

Best laid plans of mice and husbands, they say.

"Honey," I said, returning from the bins one morning, "this pizza box has to go in the trash."

"What? I thought pizza boxes were recyclable now."

"Only if they aren't grease stained," I said, "and that's a near impossibility given our children's passion for pepperoni and bacon."

Another day she asked whether a plastic berry container was recyclable. I turned to Thing 1, my 9-year-old daughter, at the counter and asked her to tell us what numbers were now good for recycling.

"One to seven," she said with nary a pause. "It used to only be ones and twos."

"What number is it?" I asked my wife, a woman who, for fun, will compound interest on her investments in her head.

"A number two," she said, and sighed a sigh worthy of a word bubble in a "Peanuts" comic strip.

Which reminds me -- dear readers, please do your part. Once you've finished with this column, recycle it appropriately by Digging it, Stumbling it, Tweeting it and so on.

That's the advantage of digital publishing -- my words no longer line canaries' cages.


  1. jesus, do I have to be green EVERYWHERE I go?

    I feel a bit like eating a fly right now.

  2. i think there are support groups for people like Your Love and I...I dare not comingle wet and dry either.

  3. The part that was suppose to be nice is a new rolling recycle can, with cover. The delivery takes sometime 3 or 4 weeks!
    I was really happy about Styrofoam going to the recycling! And Strictly Stamford is a bit bemused by the "No Pizza Box" Stance.

  4. Tell Your Love that she is not alone. I can never remember what goes where. And the whole washing things before you dispose of them? What, I don't have enough dishes to do?

  5. Man that just made me feel like I am single-handedly killing the planet. Down with the earth! Up with greasy boxes!

  6. I had single-stream recycling for years in California, its awesome.

    A large roller is important, everyone gets one in CA,'the hand-carry bin' was history years ago in CA.

    I live in Greenwich and am sick of hand-carrying separately recycling bins on nutty schedules, and they don't even have a regular pickup bin for cardboard - how ridiculous!

    I have even called for cardboard pickup before when I had a giant pile of it I had saved, and they came by and threw it in the dump truck! GARH!

    Moving from CA to CT was like traveling back in time 10 years waste-disposal wise.

    Its great to see single-stream recycling coming to Stamford!

  7. Do we have the same wife? Mine does the same thing.

    We just started the single-stream recycling too. There may have been some statewide initiative for towns.

  8. I laugh because I cannot imagine a spouse who would even take responsibility to TRY and recycle stuff. Not because he's not green, but because he just leaves a hurricane of crap wherever he goes.

    Mass hysteria. Pop cans and toilet paper strewn in with pants and socks.


    I'll take your wife any day of the week.

    (twice on Sundays)

  9. I'm averse to recycling posts. I'd rather reduce and reuse, than recycle.

    My own town has gone commingled and it's kind of disturbing to see paper products get wet with can juice. Yum for the ants outside.

    Rinse? What you talking, Willis?

  10. Houston seems to have an aversion to recycling. Big Oil - go figure. My wife's the same way - drinks half a Diet Coke and then tosses it in the trash can before running outside and spraying an aerosol can into the breeze for no particular reason.

    Oh, and my electronic words will always line bird cages. People print them out just for that purpose.

  11. I am a recycling fiend! It makes me gleeful, really, and each week my recycling bin is loaded to the brim with so much plastics I imagine my grandchildren will be living in houses made from it one day. Anyway, I thought our program was single stream because we just dumped all the appropriate recyclable items in the one container - tin cans and plastics and papers, oh my! - and watched the moody garbage man dump them all in one area of his truck each week, but then last week, I got a letter telling me the city was going to single stream recycling and really, based on reading it, it doesn't sound any different from what I'm already doing.

    So I tossed the letter in the recycling bin and probably said the word 'gleeful' a few more times than my own partner would like.

    Then I left you the world's most boring comment. But because I recycle, it's a bit nicer world's most boring comment.

  12. I practice yoga. I recycle everything. And yet I still drive a "car" large enough hold 6 kids and a Smart Car at the same time. I guess I am my own Ying and Yang.

  13. OKay you were just speaking another language and I didn't want to understand a word you just said.

    So I'll go do my time out in a corner and call it good k?

  14. Thank god I don't live in a city where recycling is madatory. I am not anal enough to remember (or care) what can holds what items.

    It's hard enough just remembering which kids are mine and which are her's....

  15. Your Love and I sound a lot a like. And my husband is much like you with the recycling. I drive him crazy. And not in a good way.

    Good for you though...I need to step it up a bit around here.

  16. The single-streaming bin goes against my OCD/need to catalog and organize everything in my path nature. I just can't do it and can't get my mind around exactly how it works, so I'll stick to my little bins until I absolutely have to.

  17. I put pizza boxes with grease stains in the blue bin all the time.

    they take it anyway.

  18. i recycle the tags off of my clothing, if that tells you anything about how nutso i am about it. i just moved to phoenix where we can only recycle 1 & 2. i used to recycle 1-7 in st. louis. it's hard to get used to & a little bit of my heart dies every time i throw away a damn yogurt container.

  19. I wish they would do that here. Until then I'll continue with my reduce and reuse routine. I save as much of the plastics that come into my house as I'm able. I have yogurt containers coming out of my ass because I refuse to throw them away- and have gone as far as to put plants in them. I read think it was a Sierra club magazine that every bit of plastics ever made is still with us- and the large majority is floating in the ocean. So! If anyone wants to see the worlds largest collection of leftover sour cream and yogurt containers, let me know. I'll even give you one. So long as you promise that you won't throw it away ;).

  20. Unfortunately, changing behavior isn't as easy as changing a service on changing a law. It takes time.

    Hopefully you and your spouse will work through this change in habits before a divorce is necessary ;)


REMEMBER: You're at your sexiest when you comment.


My Uncool Past