Al Batt: Are recycling bins made of recycled materials?

Published 10:30 pm Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tales From Exit 22 by Al Batt

I held a plastic seashell to my ear. I didn’t hear the ocean, but the seashell did say, “Please recycle me.”

I tossed it into the recycling bin, nearly stepping on a Rhode Island Red in the process.

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Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the recycling bin.

I’d taken a carload of recycling to the place where one takes a carload of recycling. As I put the paper and plastic into the bins, I was happy to see that much recycling had been done. As I prepared to leave, I saw a pile of cigarette filters on the ground. I spotted another pile of filters not 20 feet away. People had emptied their vehicles’ ashtrays near the recycling bins. Various sources say that it takes 18 months to 10 years for a cigarette filter to decompose. I hoped that someone not only felt guilty for dumping the cigarette filters, but also looked as guilty as a cat with feathers on its chin.

Recycling is popular. Even many people who don’t recycle, pretend to recycle.

People have always recycled.

My parents recycled things. They might not have known that they were doing it, but they did.

When I was a lad, recycling was wearing the same shirt for three days in a row. It was using catalogs (Sears, Monkey Wards and Penneys) and peach paper as toilet paper substitutes in the outhouse. I favored the peach paper. No staples. Recycling was using Cool Whip containers to hold the leftover hotdish on refrigerator shelves. Recycling was turning used baler twine into rope.

Leftovers are recycled meals. It’s like bin soup. I don’t know what it is now, but it’s bin soup. Ancient fruitcakes are exchanged as Christmas presents even though they had entered the petrified state.

Frankenstein’s monster was made from recycled parts.

Dieters recycle the same pounds that have been gained and lost repeatedly.

Seniors are recycled teenagers.

“Reduce. Reuse. Recycle,” was a guiding principle of the people who lived through The Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, even though they had never heard the phrase, as the slogan wasn’t created until 1976. The Great Depression created a flock of frugal folks. “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without,” was a common mantra.

Clothes continue to be recycled. I’ve worn hand-me-downs. My grandparents, as children, wore clothes made from feed sacks. None of my clothing had names on it that could be easily seen. If clothing has its name prominently displayed, it’s too expensive. The wearer should be paid for doing the advertising.

I keep checking the recycling bins for used husbands. A friend is recycling her husband. She claims that her next husband will be normal. That’s wishful thinking. The only place where normal is found in a household is as a setting on a washing machine.

In my youth, there was a dump not far from our farm where people dumped stuff that they no longer wanted or needed. We called it “the dump.” It was a fitting moniker. We’d haul things there. My father loved going to the dump because he’d always bring home more stuff than he left there. That’s the way the dump recycled things. Dad was never down in the dumps. He was always up in the dumps. It was shopping without spending any money. There were mysteries to be found there. He frequently brought things home that he wasn’t quite sure what they were on the reasoning that he might need them one day.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

A neighbor wore shoes that didn’t match. He didn’t care. He found them at the dump. He encountered one that fit his foot and saved it. It had been stuffed with mashed potatoes. I’ll bet there was a story there. Then a few years later he found another shoe in his size for the other foot. The shoes looked good in an odd way. They were a different style and color, but his feet never complained.

Recycling bins are usually at least partially made from recycled materials so that they could be recycled when they are no longer material to recycling. They might be hard to dispose of. It’s like trying to throw away a garbage can.

I found a bottle floating in the Le Sueur River. It had a note in it. I hoped the paper would reveal life’s secrets or display a map showing the location of a buried treasure.

The note read, “Recycle me.”

Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.