I have a confession to make. I have trash guilt. That feeling you get when you are about to throw something away and you hear a voice asking you if that is really trash. That feeling you get when you put out the trash cans on trash day and you hear that truck come by to pick it up. You just know the garbage man will be knocking on your door shortly holding a soup can with a stern look his face. Or you will get a nasty letter cursing you and future generations to come for not putting the correct trash in the correct trash bin.
My guilt started with my mother. The little voice in my head is hers. Some people have the iconic Jewish mother or the Catholic guilt trip mother; I got the trash talking mom. It’s true. I would go to throw something away and I would get a sharp voice, usually right in my ear, as she snatched the item from my hands,
“Teresa, does that go there? No, it’s RECYCLABLE!”
I always expected angels dressed as garbage men to sing, well angelically, every time she said RECYCLABLE, like it was a holy word. If something was recyclable it got special treatment. One must wash it out, or bundle it, or cut it into the right size to fit the bin. Yea. There was a lot of care with the trash. My mom would even go through the trash that was already placed in the trashcan to see if anything was RECYCLABLE. If she found something, it was a lecture about how that item was NOT trash and did not belong there.
She wasn’t always that way, only when the company that serviced our city decided to save money by recycling the paper, the cans, the bottles and such. Used to be, you could throw away your trash. Now we had to separate it. Worse they wanted us to separate “green” items. That would be yard clipping and food waste. Pretty much got to the point where the only thing in the trash was the pet waste and that rare item that was not recyclable. Worse? We paid extra for the privilege of separating our trash out. Yay. Look at us we RECYCLE.
She did a good job, installing that trash guilt in me. I moved to a new, much smaller town. Here we only have two bins, the recycling and trash. In fact, it was very confusing to me for a while. I wasn’t sure where to put my yard clippings. I was supposed to put in the trash bin. But I was going to RECYCLE! I am getting used to it though. Except on trash day, then I am sure, that the trash man is going to knock on my door, shake a empty jar of peanut butter and ask me why I didn’t rinse it out and put in recycling? Then the trash guilt is almost overwhelming. I hope there is a rehab somewhere.
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