Monday, June 30, 2008

Green Guys

My oldest son called me from his babysitting job on Friday night. Not because he was having trouble putting the two little ones to bed or having difficulty wrangling them into brushing their teeth. He can handle all that just fine.

He called me because he couldn't figure out what to do with the pizza box that was delivered to the front door holding their dinner. He couldn't find a recycling bin. Anywhere. He looked high and low and called me in confusion. What do I do with it? Where should I put it? Can I just leave it on the counter? I'm not throwing it in the trash. Do you want to come over and get it and put it in our bin? (He was babysitting for our next door neighbors)I explained to him that not every family recycles and you might just need to leave it on the counter for the parents to decide where to put it. He was surprised to find out that a concept as simple as recycling isn't embraced by everyone. This is the first of many learning curves I am sure he will encounter as he goes out to babysit, date or hang out with friends. Not everyone recycles. Not everyone avoids high fructose corn syrup like the plague. Not everyone believes in global warming. Not everyone thinks you should support your local farmer buying funny looking meat, cheese and bread in label-less packages.

My son left that pizza box on the counter. He held firm to his beliefs that you don't throw cardboard in the trash and he just wasn't doing it. I hope that this is the first of many steps he takes to create his own "green guy" stance. I am sure he heard my voice rambling in the back of his brain about landfills, decomposition, global warming and garbage. I hope my voice isn't someday replaced by girlfriends, buddies and peers that tell him, "Dude, like, just throw it in the trash, who cares, we're in a hurry". I hope my son is the one who tells them, "Dude, you can't just throw that in the trash! That will be there for like 700 years, what were you thinking?"

12 comments:

Rapunzel said...

WTG on starting your son off on the right track! If my teenagers are any example, this next generation seems much more earth-conscious than we ever were. There is hope!

Bobbi's Book Nook said...

Good for him! It's the next generation that is going to make a difference in our planet.

Heather @ SGF said...

I'm willing to bet you had a HUGE grin on your face while you were writing this! How proud you must be that the values you've tried to pass on are sticking! And that rather than cave to the pressure of what everyone else does, instead of taking the easy road (just tossing it), he did what he felt was right. You have earned that smile, girl! Good job!

Green Bean said...

How proud are you of your boy!?! Even if he goes through a phase where he doesn't care, where he doesn't recycle, I'm going to bet it will be a sort lived phase because you have raised someone who cares. Awesome.

Rachel said...

found you on cruncy chicken...
first, your kid rocks.
second, i'm surprised you're allowed to recycle pizza boxes. out west here (seattle) we can't recycle them... but we can put them in our yard waste bins. but not every area has those. it's so weird to think back to when i was a kid and there was no recycling. i remember when this new thing came out that you shouldn't throw your cans away!

Debbie said...

You've trained that boy well, good job, mom! Like Rachel, I'm surprised you can recycle pizza boxes where you live; I've been told any batch of cardboard that has any pizza boxes in it get rejected by the recyclers because of food contamination. I feel guilty about it but I throw them in the trash. (Though not guilty enough to stop ordering pizza, apparently. I have cut way, way back.)

JAM said...

This is where the recycling stuff just drives me crazy - I have heard both that you can't recycle pizza boxes, yet you can recycle any cardboard if it doesn't have food residue on it, so we check our boxes and usually they're fine, so we do recycle them, but I'd hate to think we've ruined a whole batch of other stuff from being recycled (and how big are these batches?) I've heard the same thing about caps being left on water bottles - does that ruin the whole thing too? I'm so afraid that much of what we put in our bins never gets recycled. We do have yard waste bins but I've not heard of being able to put food scraps or pizza boxes in there. But I totally agree with the other posters - you have raised your boy right to care about the world, and I do see it so much in this generation of kids - but the education you are giving him is key. A lot of my daughter's friends think they're being great if they recycle water bottles, not getting that they shouldn't be using disposables in the first place. My daughter is so eager each week to see how small our trash bag is (eco-geek, anyone???) and I think this will stick with them.

arduous said...

It differs from city to city, but you should check to make sure that pizza boxes are recylable or they can contaminate the entire recycling bin. Many cities allow them to go in the yard waste bin (like Seattle) and also, pizza boxes can be composted.

WTG your son! Those values you learn when you are younger stay with you for a long time. And though he may veer off the environmental path for a while (like in college), I think you often come back to those core values you learn as a kid.

eco 'burban mom said...

As far as the pizza boxes go - we are allowed to recycle them if they DON'T have the white, waxy liner that many pizza places put in the bottom to catch grease. I believe the technical term is "grease trap". Though, they are easy to pull out and then we can recycle the box.

Also, from what I am told, our single stream recycling process also has a machine that slices off caps and lids from bottles and OJ cartons. Could be urban myth, though... We are pretty good about taking the lids off, just to be certain!

Amaya 5 said...

That's great for you son. I love it when my older kids (though only 5 &7) are looking for the number on all things plastic to see which recycling bins they should put it. This past weekend we went to visit an extended family member who sadly does not recycle. The kids were so confused and innocently gave our kind host an environmental lecture with some cute "did you know...." bits of information. Unfortunately I'm not sure it will have changed our host's immediate actions, but it certain shows that we need to keep instilling these values, so our kids can keep passing the message on for us as if it's second nature.

Melinda said...

Awesome - great job, mom! You must be thrilled to see that.

Here in Seattle, we aren't allowed to throw pizza boxes in the recycle bin, but we are encouraged to throw them in the compost bin. Something about the oils in the cardboard making it impossible to recycle...

Oh, just saw Rachel saying the same thing. Hello, Rachel!

Melissa said...

this is such a great story! It's awesome to see the results of kids being brought up with a different set of norms. I love that he just takes it for granted that people recycle (and he's right - why wouldn't everybody do it?)