Posted by: thezedword | October 27, 2008

Reverse-psychology recycling

A kind warning: In this post, I will discuss a certain bathroom activity that may offend some and terrify others. Proceed with caution.

You can always make a butterfly with those empty TP rolls.

You can always make a butterfly with those empty TP rolls.

So, the other day I’m changing the toilet paper roll and I toss it in the trash can rubbish bin where there were, like, four other empty cardboard rolls, and I realize, these things take up a lot of space. They are a few inches long and hollow, meaning they leave an empty volume of space in the trashcan rubbish bin that could be better utilized. An economical person might crush the toilet paper rolls or tear them open to make that fun spiral thingy that provides a few minutes of entertainment if you run out of magazines in the john. However, at this particularly juncture, it seemed like our bathroom trash can rubbish bin was mostly full of worthless, used toilet paper rolls. In all reality, these wound-up strips of cardboard must be one of the least utilitarian objects ever engineered. Like greeting cards and gift wrap, it’s something you use for a finite period of time and is for the most part not reusable. Unless you combine toilet paper rolls with paper towel rolls to make a highly unreliable suit of body armor, they get tossed out as soon as the toilet paper is gone.

Normally, I don’t really concern myself with the capacity of my trash can rubbish bin, but since moving to New Zealand this has moved to the forefront of my domestic concerns. That’s because, despite being socialist, having universal health care and taking 21 cents for every dollar we make, the Wellington City Council makes us pay for trash rubbish collection. This fee is factored into the price of trash rubbish bags, which you can buy at grocery stores for $10 for five of the suckers. And this is where recycling comes in.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “Well, what do you have to pay for recycling bags or a recycling bin?” It’s a question that took us a few days to get an answer to and as we discovered: Nothing. This is the beauty of the Wellington recycling program. Relative to the small size of the special trash rubbish bags, you pay a large amount of money for them, so to make them worth your hard-earned cash, you make that trash rubbish bag last as long as you can. (Don’t worry, we leave the special bags outside and keep a stock of grocery bags for the short term. Our apartment flat smells fine, thank you.) To conserve space, it’s wise to remove anything that could be recyclable. Cereal boxes, bottles, candy wrappers, pizza boxes, egg crates, rejection letters from jobs, anything thing that could take up space and doesn’t have food juices on it: into the recycling bags. Plus, our recycling bags are old grocery bags, making another one-time-use item very useful.

At first it seemed like a pain, but staring into my crowded trash can rubbish bin, I realized the brilliance of the system. No longer are the over-stuffed landfills someone else’s problems, pollution isn’t for smarter people to deal with, recycling isn’t something you do only when the trashcan rubbish bin is a more convenient option because you’re already in the garage and you don’t have to walk all the way out to the bins. It isn’t tied to some larger issue — saving the world — that’s too big for anyone to really fathom or understand. It’s infinitely smaller and effects everyone in a more personal way. It’s about your wallet and finding a free alternative for getting rid of your trash rubbish.

If it comes down to shelling out $10 every eight weeks or so to make people recycle, I’m more than willing to do it, even if it means The Man is controlling me without me realizing it. A cleaner country — and maybe even world — is worth the price.


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