Looking Through Green-Colored Glasses

recycleLast week I was at a brown-bag lunch talk, and I heard the woman next to me sigh. “Shoot, I forgot to bring a spoon.” The man on the other side of me whipped out a spoon from his backpack (the real kind, not plastic) and gave it to her. At the end of lunch, the woman wiped the spoon clean with her napkin and began to hand it back to the man with her thanks. He waived her off. “Keep it,” he said. “Use it and you’ll help keep 10,000 pounds of plastic out of our landfills.”

I hate it when that happens. Looking down at the plastic fork and disposable plastic salad container I was about to toss, I suddenly felt guilty.

Until that moment, I never really thought about my use of plastic utensils. In fact, I was proud of the stash of Costco forks, spoons and knives housed in my drawer for those days when I brought my lunch.

Now, the comments of that well-meaning man run through my head every time I reach for a disposable fork. Damn that environmental goody-two-shoes and the green-colored glasses he foisted upon me!

Here are a few other things I “discovered” you can recycle:

  • Wine corks. They’re turned into flooring and wall tiles. Mail them to Wine Cork Recycling, Yemm & Hart Ltd., 610 Chamber Drive, Fredericktown, MO 63645.
  • Tinfoil. After rinsing and wadding the tinfoil up, you can bring it to the curb with your recycled bottles and cans.
  • Videotapes. Instead of tossing them (and running the risk they unwind and get tangled in everything at the landfill), donate them. Send them (and other computer media) to ACT, a nonprofit that employs disabled people to clean, erase, and resell the tapes.

What you do to reuse, recycle and reduce? Despite my tantrum, I actually am looking for ways to reduce my impact on the environment. My next stop is The Nature Conservancy’s carbon footprint calculator to generate more guilt inspiration.


  • Sharon Says:
    10-30-2008 08:19:55

    The town I live in recycles just about everything except plastic bags, plastic wrap, and those snack bags that are part foil/part plastic. Even though I use reusable bags for groceries and other shopping, I still wind up with a fair number of plastic bags. I save them and recycle them at the grocery store.

  • Stacy Says:
    10-30-2008 08:56:33

    We use cloth napkins and throw them in with the laundry later in the week. We never use paper plates, paper cups or plastic utensils. We reuse plastic water bottles. We have a compost pile. I reuse gift wrap, bows and bags. Also, my husband’s father is lining the inside of their gazebo cieling with wine corks. We don’t have an SUV and never did and never will. We use cloth grocery bags. I’ve made rugs out of fabric from old clothes and sheets and used yarn for knitting by taking apart old sweaters. I made an 8 foot flower ornament for the garden using copper scraps found on a construction site. We made a mosaic garden bench using an old cement sink we found in the woods and broken tag sale plates. And, I am (also) very proud to say that our property has been chemical free for ten years.

  • Cindy L Says:
    10-30-2008 10:07:05

    Funny you mention this. I am prepping for a Halloween party this week — and just decided to use real glasses for wine and real mugs for the chili instead of using paper and plastic. I used to rely on paper/plastic for larger parties, but have been rethinking that whole issue this year. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Anne Says:
    10-30-2008 13:04:20

    Funny, one of the things that Obama has really been hammering home lately is that it is going to be EVERYONE’s responsibility to get us out of all our current crisis’. We can’t just sit back and hope the government and corporate America figure our energy and environmental solutions – it is everyone’s job to contribute in their own way.

    I know longer bring home cases of water bottles from Costco. Instead we use sports bottles, and fill up from the tap. At work I have my coffee cup from home, so I can use this instead of the paper cups at the beverage station.

    Keeping a pair of silver utensils in my drawer at work isn’t such a bad idea either. Each of these things is a small contribution….but if everyone did it, think of the huge impact we would make.

  • Anne Says:
    10-30-2008 13:05:54

    Stacy – I’m impressed with your environmentally sound ingenuity…and I’m dying to see your copper garden sculpture!

  • Anne Says:
    10-30-2008 13:08:02

    One last comment – thanks everyone for some great suggestions. I keep thinking taking on the responsibility of communicating these types of resources and ideas to others (one’s neighborhood for example) would be a great community service project for kid’s to undertake.

  • Charlotte Says:
    10-31-2008 07:43:12

    Wine corks! Wish I had known, I could have covered lots of square footage of flooring over the years.
    All kidding aside, I enjoyed this informative article.

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