One Man holding an ordinary plastic margarine
container in his kitchen suddenly finds himself paralyzed with
indecision. The moment lasts for a long time, until he musters up
the muscles and will to grab his phone and peck out a phone
Man: Hello. Is this the Grandview Recycling
A Woman sitting at an old metal and wood-skin
Woman: Yes. Can I help
Man: I have a plastic margarine container
here. There’s no
number on the bottom indicating its waste category, so I wasn’t sure
if it had a waste category, or if it was acceptable trash for the
Woman: Sir, if the container has no number on
it, you can just throw it in the regular trash.
Man: It just looks like a lot of containers I
do recycle in my blue bin. I’d just feel more comfortable if I was
sure. I’ve been using it as a planter. But the plant died. And well,
I still don’t know what to do with this container. It will only hold
things like Geraniums. And to be honest with you, I don’t really
Woman: Let me see if I can help. What markings
are there on the bottom of your
Man: It says, Mama Bear Margarine –
Woman: Is there a number in a triangle?
Man: There’s a number. But it’s not in a
triangle. It’s in a little bear’s face.
Woman: That wouldn’t be recyclable,
Man: But it’s
Woman: I think you can just throw it
Man: Do you want to know the number in the
little bear’s face?
Woman: No, sir. I don’t think that’s
Man: Look, I’m sorry to be such a bother, but I
like this margarine. It’s not like the other margarines. It’s
buttery tasting, and really makes toast taste like toast. It’s made
with olive oil. And of course it has no cholesterol, although it
does seem to have some saturated fat. But I think some saturated fat
is okay, right? Anyway, I want to continue buying this brand, but if
the empty container is going to be, you know, a waste problem, I may
have to go back to my old brand of margarine.
Woman: Sir, I’m not sure I can help you.
Man: See, the Mama Bear brand has less than 4.5
grams of fat per serving. My other brand had much more. Do you
happen to know a brand of margarine that has 4.5 grams of fat or
less and whose container is recyclable?
Woman: No, sir. I do
Man: Well, I have the bin for organic waste and
bins for glass, for paper, for aluminum cans, for plastic
containers. I know where to put my chicken bones. I have a bin for
batteries. And I have a compost heap in the back garden for organic
Woman: Sir, do you have a container in your
kitchen for trash?
Man: Yes, I
Woman: What’s in
Man: No. I never have any real trash any more.
In fact sometimes I use my kitchen trashcan to store fruits and
Woman: Sir, that kitchen trashcan should be for
your Mama Bear Margarine
Man: What will I do with my
Woman: A cookie jar might work,
Man: Yes, of course. Thank you. I didn’t mean
to be such a wuss about this. It was just that all my other
margarine containers went into the plastics bin, and, you know, I
want to do the right thing. Because I was told that Rule Number One
in recycling (it’s in capital letters here in my recycling notice)
is “DON’T TRASH YOUR RECYCLABLES!” Something classified as Rule
Number One strikes me as pretty important, like “I am the God thy
Father, thou shalt not have strange gods before me.”
Woman: I think you’re making the right decision
to call the office, sir. But I think you’ll be okay putting your
container in the
Man: I heard that you can destroy recycling
equipment if you put such things in the wrong bin. That was another
reason I called.
Woman: Sir, if you’ll feel any better, I’ll
alert our recycling unit to look out for your Mama Bear Margarine
Man: Yes, that would make me feel a lot
Woman: (she’s doing nothing) I’m making a note
now. Thank you for calling,
Man: Don’t you want my
Woman: Of course, your
Man: It’s 984 Bowmont Ave. I’m just north of
Ridgeway Ave. Just tell the pick-up men I’m the yellow gate with the
scalloped arch. And that the Mama Bear Margarine container will be
in the large gray plastic trash
Woman: Yellow gate with the scalloped arch.
Large gray trash can. Got it. So thank you so much for your call.
And we’ll look out for your Mama Bear Margarine
Man: Thank you again. I think I feel a lot
better. I made one mistake last year, when I threw out an old set of
batteries, and I didn’t sleep for a
Woman: Not to worry. I’ll alert the
Environmental Protection Agency too, sir, about your batteries.
They’ll know what to do.
Man: Thank you. Tell them that I put them into
a little yellow plastic bag I believe is biodegradable, so they may
not notice them right away.
Woman: I’ll make a note of that, sir.
Man: It may also have chicken bones in it.
Before I knew about the chicken bones, I would sometimes put them
into separate little bags with batteries and stuff like that. Do chicken skins go in with
the chicken bones?
Woman: I think the chicken bones would be best
without the skins.
Man: That’s what I thought. Oh, that reminds
me. I’m not sure what I
do with lubricants and solvents. Can you give me any advice on where
I can stick the lubricants and solvents?
Woman: (frustrated) Yes, I
Man: And where would that
Woman: (Long empty pause. She wants
desperately to say it.)