So, I don’t recycle. Well, more accurately, I didn’t recycle. I recently started, for a few reasons. One, my friend Andy is big on garbage. Seriously, he wrote a master’s thesis on Florida garbage and used to work for the county’s solid waste – which is the politically correct word for “trash” – department. Two, for two people, we were producing a lot of garbage and I grew tired of the city’s loan shark bulk pickup rates. No offense to Gulfport’s fine solid waste guys, but $17 every time the Claw of Trash swoops down is enough to make anyone start thinking, “Gee, how can I make less trash so I can cut up the remodeling trash and fit it in my can?” Three, the recycling game has changed.
Used to be, if you threw something in the bin that ended up not getting recycled, after a few months the MRF (Materials Remanufacturing Facility – it rhymes with “Smurf”) would truck it back to the local landfill or waste-to-energy (think environmentally responsible incinerator that creates power from trash, a la “Back to the Future”). This used twice the oil, fuel, wear and tear on the trucks, and manpower it would have if I’d just tossed the damn glass bottle in the trash at the get-go. So I stopped recycling, except for cans and newspaper, because those always seem to get made into new stuff. I insisted I didn’t recycle because I counted it a net loss for the environment.
That’s right, I didn’t recycle because I cared about the planet.
Between my buddy Andy’s pained expressions that suggested that I was singlehandedly decimating the planet and Gulfport’s Public Works Director Don Sopak making me feel completely ignorant about the state of recycling, I figured the time had come. Also, Andy’s getting married in October, and I figured him for just enough of a hippie that I could tell him I’d started recycling as my gift to him. So, I started tossing stuff into my bins, but I wanted to recycle smart. As I learned last week when I prepared our Recycling Market Report, some things still don’t make sense to recycle. Chiefly, glass, because instead of getting paid for the glass it collects, as it does with things like cans, Gulfport pays someone to take the glass. I made the decision not to recycle glass.
This posed a problem for me, because I apparently am undergoing some sort of Earth Mother phase where I compost, make my own dog treats and sour mix, and want to use less stuff in general (which always made more sense than recycling evidence of conspicuous consumption, anyway: just use less stuff).
This means when I cracked open a Corona Light, I hated to throw the bottle in the trash. Mostly because now that we’re composting and recycling almost everything we use, the damn bottles are pretty much the only thing in the trash, and I was starting to worry the trash guys were judging me.
So right now I’m trying something new: canned beer. It’s not pretty, folks. Some people swear that canned beer actually tastes better because it doesn’t let the light damage the taste of the beer. If that’s the case, the only thing saving Corona Light is the light, because in the can it tastes like something served to prisoners.
I committed to trying the “no glass bottles” thing for a few weeks, and right now at the end of the first week, I’ve determined a few things: One, I am not one of those people who can laugh and say, “hey, any beer is better than no beer.” Two, I would make a lousy alcoholic, because turns out that while Corona Light may not be the best beer, I not much else replaces it. Three, I really wish someone would go ahead and find a viable use for used glass so the city can start making money from recycling it, because it’s possible I just don’t care about the planet quite that much.
I did bring my dilemma to Mr. Sopak, who had a hearty chuckle at my expense and, being a full-service city type of guy, suggested I pour the canned beer in a cold glass. Look, don’t misunderstand, this is a true first world type of problem, and I don’t blame you for laughing at me. But after a beautiful day on the boat or sitting through the unique ring of Dante’s hell that is a city council meeting, my reward is a cold Corona Light. Anything fancier doesn’t cut it. There’s a reason fishermen love Budweiser: the lack of pretension goes down easier after a long day. Admittedly, I don’t mind a touch more pretension in my beer, although it’s Corona Light and not a microbrew I can neither afford nor pronounce, so not much more, but still.
Because I care about the city’s bottom line and, to some degree, the impact my reward for sitting through city council will have on the planet, I will see this experiment through the end of the month. Oh, and here’s something to amuse you: apparently beer and soda cans bring in so much money right now, we apparently have a rash of recycling thefts in Gulfport. We know this because Mr. Sopak gets phone calls that his trash guys dumped the recycling on the lawn, and he has to explain no, that wasn’t city staff, that was a can thief. That’s right, people go through your recycling at night and steal the cans. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t recycle them – please do, they’re bringing in about $450 per ton, which the city uses to subsidize a lower property tax rate. Just hide your can bin under your newspaper bin, because stealing beer cans is apparently the newest crime in town.
So go ahead, drink more beer. It’s for the good of Gulfport. Just recycle those cans.
Even the Budweisers.
Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com.