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adventures in recycling

I have had a personal triumph. Just now, this very morning, mark the date. This triumph? I remembered to collect the trash and recycling bins from the alley before a diabolical stranger filled them with his own garbage.

This stranger has become something of an arch-nemesis this summer. Several months back, the city of Denver changed up how it collects our throw-aways. They took away the big dumpsters placed every few dozen feet along the alley block and issued everyone new bins (brand-new black ones for trash, to accompany the grape-hued tanks we already filled with our recycling). They asked us to move these bins back and forth from the alley behind our homes to somewhere on our property after collection each week, thus clearing the alleys during the week and — side benefit! — cutting back on instances of illegal dumping.

A good plan. Simple. Easy to remember. Except that it isn’t so easy to remember and on more counts than would fit on one hand, Dan and I have in fact forgotten to pull our bins back to our side yard following trash collection. Forgotten for days and days. Usually until the trash and recycling beside our back door has reached unsightly proportions and we move to clear it out. Only to find that our supposedly empty recycling bin is already full. With someone else’s stuff.

Insert rage here.

Had this been a one-time occurrence, I would have absorbed the annoyance and just moved on.  But every single time we have forgotten to promptly bring the bin back in after the city so kindly has removed its recyclable contents, we will retrieve it and also find a full count of beer bottles, beer cans, and generally alcohol-related cast-offs of someone else’s life. A someone who, as I said, is now my arch-nemesis.

I have gotten a little nutty with this feud. Each time, as I’ve moved an already-full recycling bin back from the alley, I’ve envisioned taking matters into my own hands. First, I will attach a sign to our recycling bin, in a respectful, yet stern tone, admonishing said stranger for taking advantage of us. Can this person truly not see our address printed in big characters on the purple plastic, rightly claiming this bin for our own use? Can this person not understand that perhaps we too have needs to recycle the papers and plastics, tins and glass from our domestic existence?

From a strongly worded notice, my imagination then moves on to talking with our neighbors, to see if they too have experienced this frustration and perhaps have any leads. We can organize a committee, there is strength in numbers after all. Of course, should that action not prove fruitful, I imagine taking my investigation to the next level: security cameras. Catch the illegal bottle dumper in action. Get the proof we need to bring this person to justice. And while we are on this quest for evidence, why not really go for it and get a stake-out van? We’ll fill it with loads of instant coffee, gummy bears, and Red Vines and take the watch in shifts. We’ll catch this miscreant once and for all!

My musings then come to the part of the narrative where we have successfully confronted whoever this inconsiderate arch-nemesis may be, and then…what? Have a heart-to-heart? Call the authorities? Get the mayor’s office on the phone?

By this time in my fanciful quest, I have in reality successfully hauled both bins to our side yard. I get inside, wash my handsangiemakes.com, and acknowledge there is in fact a graceful solution to be had here, one that doesn’t require a private investigator: don’t forget your bins. Make a note to help you remember. Beat the arch-nemesis at his own game.

And guys, that’s exactly what I did today. Turns out we can in fact triumph over our own bad habits.

Red Vines for everyone!


SIGNED, anya elise

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