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Wednesday, Aug 05, 2015
Dorothy Harris

Washing the garbage

Dorothy Harris Highlands Today
Published:   |   Updated: March 12, 2013 at 05:29 PM

A big discussion around our house is whether or not to keep the plastic, paper and steel. Such a straightforward question should have an equally simple answer, but we have not found it so.

Mr. Harris has become tired of washing our garbage. He's also fed up with the stack of clean litter piled up next to the sink. Also negative is the added chore of having to drive the washed, sorted and compiled refuse to the recycling bins. Added up together, these factors create one big formula for conflict. In other words, he feels like it's a real pain in the trash, and I can't say I blame him.

This is an issue we have visited before. This family recycles with vigor, even being known to bring plastic containers home to wash when we went camping. After being washed, it was sorted in big cans lined up in our garage. Once a month, we'd take it all to recycle. Then I bought a car that actually fits in our one-car garage, eliminating the space. Due to this, we, or I should be honest here and say he, must now transport litter weekly, or we are forced to dance around it in order to move about the garage. Before you think I'm a tin shrew, please know I don't make him do this. Rather, his gentlemanly ways surface, and he, good man that he is, insists he'll do it.

He has now become disenchanted with the whole aggravating process. We had hoped single-stream, curbside recycling would be enacted by now. That would certainly go a long way toward making our trashy issues less overwhelming. Since it hasn't, we have to decide how to proceed with the options currently available.

"Here," he says, picking up the day's assortment of freshly washed garbage and tossing it into the kitchen can. "I will resolve this right now."

I feel something, but I'm not sure what it is. Is it a sense of shock, or a feeling of liberation? I ponder the possibilities. Toss out our trash? No longer transport my plastic yogurt cup home for washing? Make soup and sit down to eat it without first peeling the label and cleaning the steel can? No more avalanches of plastic next to the sink? It should be a relief, but honestly, I don't think I can do it.

I tried tossing, but always return to washing the garbage. Mr. Harris took to tossing the trash, like it was, well, trash. I, on the other hand, am still rooting around in the can, picking out the big stuff. It's an ingrained habit years in the making. You can take the girl out of environmental protection, but you can't take the environmental protection out of the girl.

"Keep recycling if you want to," he says, "but I'm done with taking this junk to the bins." I agree, even though I know what will transpire. When the containers need emptying, he'll be right there, helping me.

Most marriages have these little unspoken agreements. It's a benefit of a long-term relationship where you know the other person deeply. Due to this insight, I also know that while he may help me, he's not going to like it. You might say he'll eventually get a trashy attitude about it.

With this and marital harmony in mind, I intend to insist on helping him at transport time and am also going to lighten up on what I recycle. After all, fighting over garbage would be an even bigger waste of time.