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Giving a $%&!

Published: July 23, 2021


At first it all feels futile. Then slowly, then quickly, I find a connection with people who give a $%&!. Then it feels great.

I agreed to help our Quaker meeting with a modest plan to gather plastics and offer them to the plastic gods. That is, I volunteered to be a drop-off place for recycling plastics. I ended up pulling a bike trailer with two rain barrels full of plastic, wearing a rainbow cowboy hat. Because community.

It started with plastic dropped at my house. Then we loaded it into a Prius to go to the next place, the meetinghouse collection barrels.

Some contributions had too much plastic on plastic. They won’t recycle different kinds of plastic together. In the evening, I sat on my porch and peeled off unwanted plastic like one might whittle or play the fiddle. It was relaxing.

I also burned Pure Tibetan healing incense because that’s just fun!

This winter, at a “how do you find hope” retreat, the main speaker said we need to do the helping work, the work of our causes, even if we aren’t guaranteed a positive outcome. We need to do it anyway.

It seems small, this effort, but it feels good. People who care, it feels good to interact with them.

The plastic that we collect will not be melted down and sent into water or salmon or trees, but its form will be redirected into new uses, rather than clogging up more land and water for now. I am not really sure what all happens, I am just trying to be one person among many in the positive efforts department.

None of the plastic in this effort was shipped out of the U.S.

Just after loading plastic into the rain barrels at the meetinghouse, a nearby Jewish neighbor came up to us and asked if Quakers are anti-Semitic (based on a rumor she heard). We discussed this briefly and then my partner in plastic referenced an excellent web site that explains everything. The short answer is no. This is why it is good to be visible in the community, working – to be available to answer questions that come up organically.

The plastic needs to be as fresh as a newborn, with no traces of contact with liquids or solids, or other plastics. They are brought forward with no past, only a future as a new plastic product.

There are surprises – what they don’t take and what they do. “Oh, this one you don’t have to take off labels! And this one you can leave the cotton pushed down inside and leave the lid on!” It seemed random and not easy to remember, which is why I’m being vague.

I also learned a new term: Wishful recycling. It means you contribute what you feel should be recycled, even if it isn’t.

We did this work with EcoGeneration. They were very nice people. It’s a nice feeling to be among those who give a %@&!.

Click here to learn about EcoGeneration.

from Mary Ann Petersen (7/20/2021)