I have one recurring nightmare that makes the film "Soylent Green" look like a kid's show: I'm in a nursing home, and the care-givers hate me. They torture me with petty acts of meanness. The only thing that will guard me against this scenario becoming a reality is to recycle.
Yes. Recycle. There's no other reason my sweet 22-year-old nurse would hate me, is there? She blames me and my generation for the sauna in which she now lives. I see her now with her sweat-drenched bangs plastered on her forehead as she sneaks cayenne pepper into my food to punish me. She savagely whispers in my not-so-deaf ear "Is that hot enough for you, granny? Because of you and your godless infidel generation, I am stuck in a state that now makes Baghdad 50 years ago look like a spring-time paradise."
With this kind of vitriolic hatred seeping from her, what chance will I have to get my Demerol shot? I can only hope there will be a master list of the "trashy" people, if you will, and those who recycled. When my nurse consults the list, I will be redeemed.
You see, I'm relying on my own good behavior to pave the way to my demise as comfortably as possible. Call it green insurance.
Yes, I want to protect myself and my future, but I also want to know that in the end, I did my part in trying to curtail global warming. (Maybe I couldn't stop the war in Iraq, but I did attempt to leave as small an ecological footprint on this Earth as I possibly could.)
I remember my grandmother cleaning and saving used "tinfoil" (aluminum foil to you and me) and bits of string, and turning in glass Coke bottles for deposits. She saved because of her upbringing, and because she lived through the Great Depression—not for ecological reasons. My parents' generation was the first to throw away without thought. And our generation, I hate to say, has grown complacent with the convenience of disposability. Though it seems like a downward spiral, there is hope. We are a disposable society only because, at the moment, it is socially acceptable to be so. We can bring about a change.
A friend of mine works with a colleague who has hundreds of Styrofoam cups emblazoned with her family name and gives them to all her family members so they won't have to wash glasses. Ever. That's one of the most horrid things I have ever heard, but how uncommon is it? Think of all of those to-go boxes from restaurants and schools. I know many mothers who only serve food to their children on paper plates with plastic cups. "I am just so sick of cleaning up all these dirty dishes!" they say. But we have more to fear than dirty dishes.
We Jacksonians can bring about a change with a new sense of awareness that institutions alone can never achieve. Most of the Earth's problems accumulate from the seemingly inconsequential actions of millions of individuals. When you toss out one aluminum can, you waste as much energy as if you filled the same can half full of gasoline and poured it on the ground. Glass bottles last 1,000 years so save your glass and take them behind the Rainbow Co-Op for glass recycling drop-off. Let's become the first Mississippi city whose citizens fully participate in a recycling program.
What Else Can You Do?
Contact your Congressman and Senator
Tell them you support governmen-mandated carbon caps for manufacturers. Industries need to have incentives, economic and otherwise, to research and use alternative fuels. This is one of the single most important things you can do as an individual.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Bring your own cloth bags to the grocery store. If you must use the store's plastic bags, save them and take them to the Rainbow Whole Foods Co-Op in Fondren for them to reuse in their store.
This is the part about reduce and reuse. So many people focus on just the recycle part that reducing and reusing gets left out. Pay attention to what you use, and make it a point to use less: water, fuel, electricity, paper. Take faster showers and turn off the tap. Turn things off or unplug them. Walk instead of driving.
Stamp Out Styrofoam
Styrofoam (polystyrene foam) is completely non-biodegradable. It will never go away. The disposable coffee cup you used this morning could be in the ocean killing aquatic life 500 years from now. Bring a cup from home instead. Don't buy eggs in the foam cartons. Ask for paper to-go containers at restaurants or bring your own container with you (yes, I have done this and I am still alive).
Use compact fluorescent light bulbs
Substituting a compact fluorescent light bulb for a regular incandescent bulb will keep half a ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere for the life of the bulb. Warning: Do not throw these bulbs in the trash. They must be thrown away at a center for hazardous materials (see side-bar) because they contain mercury.
• A banana or orange peel lasts up to two years.
• A cigarette butt or wool sock lasts from one to five years.
• Plastic-coated paper lasts for five years.
• Plastic bags last from 10 to 20 years.
• A tin can lasts for 50 years.
• A plastic six-pack holder lasts for 500 years.
• Glass bottles last 1,000 years.
• A plastic toy in a kiddy meal will probably last forever.
• It is not known exactly how long plastic bottles and Styrofoam will last.
In comparison, the average American has a current lifespan of 77.2 years.
City of Jackson Recycling Information
The City of Jackson offers 100 percent curbside recycling for residential households. Magazines, plastics, aluminum and steel cans, phone books, corrugated cardboard boxes, paper and newspapers can all be placed in recycling bins for curbside recycling. Recyclables are collected from residences twice monthly. Call the City of Jackson Solid Waste Division for scheduled pick-up dates 601-960-1193. Recycling bins are available for pick-up from City of Jackson Solid Waste Division (200 S. President Street), 601-960-1193.
Did you know water hoses, speed bumps, traffic cones, carpet cushions and flower posts can all be made from recycled tires? Jackson residents can take 10 tires per month to the City of Jackson Solid Waste Facility (6810 I-55 S. Frontage Rd.,Byram), 601-960-1193 or 601-373-5863).
Drop-off Recyclables. Residents who wish may drop off their recyclables to Recycle America Alliance (841 Palmyra St., Jackson), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Great American Clean-Up, April 28, is a city-wide drop-off day for all of your household hazardous materials. All recycling materials and any other waste you need to throw away like computers, lamps, TVs or old furniture will be accepted. Don't forget to bring all your used batteries, burnt-out fluorescent bulbs and old paint cans. (Never throw those in the trash as they contaminate our land and water.) This event will take place at the Environmental Service Center (1570 Terry Road). Call 960-0000 for more information.
Facts from "50 Simple Things You Can Do To Save the Earth," by the Earth Works Group.