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Why Being Green Can Be a Pain

Before recycling this paint would have gone into a landfill.

After spending yesterday thinking — really thinking — about all my actions, I came to a conclusion: I get why most people would rather skip the whole green thing entirely. It’s so much easier to do things quickly and move about your day. Case in point: One of my One Small Thing moves is recycling all the paper I come in contact with. I didn’t realize that my town will take cardboard food packaging. They do, though, so now — when I finish a box of something — I have to fold it carefully and put it in with the rest of the recycling. However, when I’m in the middle of cooking dinner, and I’ve got the big girl finishing her homework and the little girl screaming “why” after I tell her she can’t have more berries, it would be much easier to chuck everything in the garbage.

How’s this one: I’ve used cloth bags forever when it comes to my grocery shopping. However, I don’t always remember to bring a bag into Target or Barnes & Nobel. Wanting to stay true to the cause of not using any plastic bags, the other night I found myself carrying a pile of stuff — a board game, a prescription, some soap, a bottle of vitamins — sans bag out of Target. Yes, all those things in my arms. I know I sounded weird when I told the clerk I would go it without the bag. I know I looked weird balancing everything in my arms. Even one of my shopping choices was a pain. I picked a less-favorite-gum over a favorite pack because I wanted to cut down on packaging.

Another eco-annoyance: The two bags of Styrofoam packing peanuts that have been sitting in my front seat for two weeks. I got a gift in the mail and saved the peanuts that it came with so I could recycle them. That was back in December. I put them in my car, but since I work and have two kids, I never get a chance to stop at the place in Farmingdale that accepts them. Recently, I had to tell a friend to pay no attention to the two bags of peanuts under her feet. It’s not just me who is making these efforts and feeling the pain. Today, I feel really sorry for my husband who has to make two trips to the town hazardous materials recycling center. He’s going to drop off all the old paint and electronics we had sitting in the garage. It certainly would have been easier to bag them all up in black plastic bags and put them out with the trash, but he’s taking 45 minutes out of his day to do the right thing for the environment.

Still, with all the annoyances, at the end of the day I feel good that I’ve done all these things. People often wonder if one person can make a difference. I like to think that we can. Collectively, one person at a time making one or two changes can create monumental change. I know it, so I’m willing to endure a few annoyances for mankind. My husband, the eco-skeptic knows it, too. So just promise me you won’t laugh when you see me lugging unbagged stuff out of Target next week?

What’s the most annoying green change you’ve made? What’s the easiest? Will you go out of your way to do the green thing even though it’s a hassle? I’d like to know.

3 Responses to “Why Being Green Can Be a Pain”

  1. Laura says:

    Because I live in an apartment, there isn’t a recycle pick up. I fill my own containers with paper, cans, plastic, glass, cardboard and take it myself to a drop of site. It is a pain and I often wait too long before going, but at the same time I feel lucky to have a drop off place that will take so many things that’s 5/10 mins. from my home. It is more of a challenge to be green, but I think it just gives us one more thing to be proud of that we are doing.

  2. Julia says:

    Thank you for your blog! I live in a rural area where we don’t have access to many environmentally friendly or healthy choices. Seems even corporate America feels that only urban/suburban people get to live responsibly. And it’s frustrating to me on a daily basis. We recycle as much as we can, but it is so nice to see someone else’s perspective and ideas. And frustration. Thank you.

  3. Shari says:

    My mother in law lives in an apartment cummunity where there is no recycling pickup. She bags all her recycling and is constantly giving it to me. When she brings it to my house on the day she babysits it is not a problem, but when I see her other times and I have to put a bag of someones leaking wine bottles, used lunch packaging, etc in my trunk, its kind of gross. I do it, because like her, I want to make sure this stuff gets recycled. I just hope that what goes in the bin actually gets recycled.
    Your husband is very good to go along with your requests. My only question is- do you know the impact of the driving back and forth? If it is too far does it make sense?
    As for your packaging peanuts, I am sure that anyone who gets into your car is not schocked to see that sitting on the floor. Why don’t you just bring them to your daughter’s art class :)

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