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The recycler
A Woman's View
Judi Tabler color mug

Many of you live outside the city limits, so you don’t have the luxury of city plumbing, do you? Neither do we. And because our bathroom plumbing requires a septic tank, garbage disposals are mostly useless.  

Our leftovers, peelings, egg shells, and such go directly into the garbage can, except in the summer when they go to the compost pile. The kitchen garbage, therefore, needs to be taken out more often. It smells pretty raunchy if it is not constantly emptied. 

These bags head for the outside trash receptacle for the garbage collection service.

But, aha! I have alleviated some of the trash/garbage/refuse problem in spite of our handicap!

Annie, the bold! Annie, the queen of recyclers!

Yes. I have the recycling “sickness.” And it’s a good compulsion that I have acquired!

My conscience won’t allow me to throw a can, pop bottle, milk carton, egg carton, cat food container, glass bottle or jar, newspaper, piece of junk mail, box, or plastic water bottle in the garbage can.

Sometimes, I try! I really do. But, then I return and fish it/them out of the kitchen garbage can. 

Several years ago, we in our city could take our containers of recycles to a location where employees would sort it, and send it on. Many were using this service. But, after a time, the city decided to end the service. I guess it was not cost effective? I am sure these employees rejoiced. Not your fault, employees!

The city set up big containers at this site, labeled “miscellaneous paper”, “tin cans”,  “milk and juice bottles”, “newspapers”, “non-corregated,” etc. Now we had to re-sort the recycled products ourselves.  

As a result, many stopped recycling. It was too much for them. They had not yet acquired the compulsion that I had. They reverted to tossing everything into the ultimate landfill destination.

I understand. But I don’t like it. This stuff will never disintegrate, and we all need to be conscientious of not adding to the problem. But, that’s me.

So, Annie to the task! Onward and upward!

I bought three plastic lidded barrels. I labeled them “newspapers,” “miscellaneous paper” and “glass, cans, etc.” I keep them in the garage. Wouldn’t they be a sight in the kitchen? 

It is remarkable how many times I handle each item. Let’s see. I open a can of soup. I rinse out the can of soup. (All food containers must be rinsed or they won’t make the cut at the recycle facility) Then, I place the can in a little bag in the kitchen. (Who wants to run to the garage every time with one measly can or two?)

The full bag goes then to the garage. Well, it doesn’t “go” by itself, naturally. I go.

When the barrels are full, we load them into the vehicle to go to the recycle location.

I unload and drag them to each proper labeled storage unit.

I begin to sort; cans over here, glass there, plastic bottles across the way. I figure I handle each container 7-8 times. (Grocery store to cupboard, out of cupboard to stove, to sink, to bag, to garage, to sorting tubs.)

What really gets me are the cat food cans; fishy, sticky, with ridges that catch the food.

Oh, I wish I could just toss them in the trash and forget it. Oh no, not me! The nagging sickness. Don’t throw that into the landfill.

I wash it. Well, I rinse it well. No, I wash it. The stuff sticks and I need a brush.

Then, and only then, can I add it to the barrel labeled “glass, cans, etc”... O WOE IS ME!

I would gladly beg, plead, ask “pretty please with sugar on it?” Will somebody, anybody, help sort this stuff? I will wash these cans, even sort them the best I can. I will volunteer to sort. 

But, help! Oh help!

In the meantime, I am happy! Joyous! A new woman!

Why? Because I sorted yesterday and have three empty barrels in the garage all ready to be refilled! Yeah!  

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at or juditabler@awomansview.