Monday, October 19, 2009

Why does recycling make me feel so guilty?

You really have to wonder about yourself when you try harder than ever to do the right thing, and you still feel guilty. And I'm not even Catholic.

Now that I'm becoming a more "green" person, I find that I feel really guilty when I can't (or don't recycle). This was more true than ever when we were in the throws of getting everything out of our house before the move. All that STUFF! There was so much. We did our best to recycle by going to the recycling station often and making multiple runs to Goodwill, instead of just throwing things away. We probably did a really, really good job, but you know what? It wasn't good enough. For me, that is.

This is the danger in committing to "do the right thing." You feel just awful when you don't do it. I've always had a hard time compromising. I think it's my upbringing. My parents taught me that there's no such thing as a white lie (lying is lying), cheating on your taxes is unacceptable, copyright laws were made to be obeyed, and there is never an excuse not to do the right thing when you knew what it was.

Now I've added recycling to the list. I am hyper-aware of how bad it is to not recycle and therefore feel compelled to do it. In the last days and hours of our move, I will confess, I broke the rules. We got to the point where we'd recycled, sold and given away everything we could and we still had more stuff. The way the schedule worked out - between getting the truck loaded, meeting the movers and getting everything in the new place, I got stuck with making the last run to the glorious Groton town dump.

Ryan had planned to do because he knew that most of what was in the car would have to be thrown away - not recycled. Let's just say as much as he is committed to right-doing, his conscience is not near as sensitive as mine. He wasn't going to think twice about throwing all that stuff away. But for me, it was painful. I really felt like I was doing something irresponsible.

When we got to the apartment, we still had lots of stuff to get rid of, including all the boxes we used to move. Our building in Lowell is not set up yet for recycling, but there is a huge bin just outside the building that we are meant to throw trash in for now. It has a big recycling logo on and it's actually green (the color) but I don't trust it. Do they really seperate all our junk and send it to the right place? I try not to think about it.

This weekend Ryan made a run to the Groton to drop off some of our recycling (we have a dump sticker through next June), but that's not always going to work. I'm counting our our management company to get recycling going soon.

As soon as they do, it's going to take a load off of my chest. I can start really recycling again. I can let go of the guilt. But wait, will they actually do what they say they will with our recycling? If heard that there's a lot of controversy around this. Some towns have people seperate it all just to throw it all back together again. What?!

I can't go there. It's out of my hands at that point, right?

My conclusion is that some people feel guilty even when they are doing their best to do the right thing. I named my blog "shooting" for simple because I knew that I would need to remind myself that shooting for something means that you don't always hit it. And that's okay. Really? Yes, really (the battle continues).

I have been trying my husband's mindset a little more lately. Trying to be a little more relaxed about the whole thing. You can't get it right every time. No one is perfect, right? But it's the desire for perfection that keeps us on our toes - striving to do the right thing when we know what it is.


  1. hahahahaahaha! The *same* thing happened to me on my move day!! I was crushed that I had to throw things out rather than recycle them--but time would not allow it (3:00a.m, only hours from the movers' arrival!). And my regular ole guilt battle also continues. But, hey, at least we're fighting it, right?!?! :) Your new place sounds ab fab!!! And your new simplicity is, well, a pack rat like me!

  2. Heya, You if you want to worry less and recycle more move to Seattle. It is amazing how green we are here and they make it easy most of the time. I went back to Florida on vacation last year and carried a water bottle around with me for 2 days before I found a recycling bin. Ugh!

    If you feel strongly about where things go after they leave you there are ways to find out. also making sure you vote for people that feel the environment is important is a huge step. There really is only so much we can do to control things but we can hopfully put people in office that can help.

    I am happy to say my carbon foot print is remarkably smaller than average in spite of the fact I drive a jeep. It is my one major fault but I just refuse to give it up. :-)

    I think you are doing great and I have found the more I make myself aware the easier it is to be green. You may want to check with your power company about where your electricity comes from. In many cities you can pay a little more each month to have your energy come from sustanable resources. I live on 100% hydro power now, and the extra funds go towards continuing to create more sustanable electricity sources.

  3. Thanks Kim and Leslie, for your comments.

    Kim, you made me laugh because it sounds like we had a very similar experience. 3 a.m.! Moving has got to be one of the craziest things. I can see why so many people hate doing it. But the good part is it's a great opportunity to simplify - sounds like you did a little of that!

    Leslie, thanks for sharing. You make some really good points and I will definitely check with the electric company to see if we can switch to hydro. That would be awesome.

    I am aware of how progressive the west is when it comes to being green. Portland and Seattle are both places that we feel drawn to. We will keep it in mind. We visited Seattle for the first time a few years ago and loved it.

    Thanks, again!