When a friend asks, “What’s wrong with the world?” You reply, “I am.”1
There was a Trader Joe’s orange juice carton on the corner of Boysenberry and Forbush. I walked past it for weeks wondering why nobody picked it up.
I like to consider myself green, an environmentalist, but I don't do it well. My wife is much more dedicated to the process than I am and my small successes I owe to her playful nagging. She often reminds me that the can or the box or the plastic I’m putting in the general trash bin belongs in the recycling bin.
Every time we go birding we see white plastic bags. We mistake them for owls and swans and geese. I tell my wife that we should make a point of picking up at least one of those bags each time we bird and put it in a recycling bin. But all we’ve done so far is talk about it.
I’m not alone, the Trader Joe’s organic juice carton that I finally picked up after weeks of walking past it is, a case in point. Was I just trying to burnish my environmental credentials, or make the neighborhood a better place? Perhaps it was a David Sedaris’s essay that was the catalyst for my good deed.
David, who lives in West Sussex England, combines a Fitbit fetish with trash collection in his essay Stepping Out He spends hours each day collecting trash on roads near his home, and now his local council is naming a garbage truck after him.
Recycling isn’t walking the same mile and a half every day and looking at the same Trader Joe’s organic juice carton on the corner of Boysenberry and Forbush nor is it mistaking white plastic bags for birds.
Recycling is when you bend over pick it up put it in a recycling bin.
Maybe I'm a nascent environmentalist. If I’m green, it's a pale green not the forest green I want to be.
- David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman ↩