It’s natural to feel hopeless when you are surrounded by inequality, political corruption and unrest, and economic uncertainty, not to mention slow-but-sure destruction of the planet from pollution and global warming.  A fav self-help book offers this advice: “Don’t let all the things you can’t do stop you from doing the things you can do.”

Recycling is one small thing I can do, but commercial recyclers tend to be picky about what they will take (#1 and #2 plastics that are bottle-shaped).  Reusable shopping bags were my go-to until COVID-19 hit.  Many stores don’t offer paper, and I end up with more throwaway plastic bags than I could ever reuse.  In response to push-back from environmentalists, some chains have initiated take-backs.  The Kroger near us expanded their program to include all sorts of flimsy plastics.  Clean, dry items can be dropped in a dedicated container in their lobby to be recycled into composite decking and lumber.  It took time to train myself to check their list and not just toss bags and wraps and packing materials willy-nilly into the trash.  I saved up my plastics for six months before I dropped them off, and I was astounded to discover that my cache filled three 39-gallon lawn and leaf bags!  Yikes!

(sing to the tune of My Favorite Things)

Bags from my shopping and bread and dry cleaning
Bags made for boiling and microwave steaming
Liners from Cheerios and Frosted Flakes
These are some plastics reclaimers will take

Overwrap binding those by-the-case bargains
Ice Mountain water and Bounty and Charmin
Wraps on cheese singles, between minute-steaks
These are some plastics reclaimers will take

Air-pillow packing and bubble-wrap mailers
Ziplocs and food wrap and sleeves from newspapers
Film from Hot pockets and Hostess cupcakes
These are some plastics reclaimers will take

Now that I know,
it will all go
to the Kroger store
to be hauled away,
then compressed and remade
into plastic 2 x 4’s

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17 thoughts on “EATING AN ELEPHANT

    • Just Joan January 17, 2021 / 4:09 pm

      Thanks, Colin. Now if I could just find a recycler who takes cheap #4 and #5 plastics (cottage cheese containers, yogurt cups, Lunchable trays, little square dog food tubs, clear deli containers, etc), I’d be all set. Anything with a lid gets used as a freezer container until it cracks, but then it winds up in the landfill. I started similar ditty about recycling pet peeves that ended with this:
      All those K-cups
      really piled up
      at the town landfill…
      Now pups run and bark
      at the dump-turned-dog park
      that we’ve nicknamed Keurig Hill

      Liked by 1 person

      • colinandray January 17, 2021 / 4:48 pm

        The problem we have is that many “recyclables” are in name only, in that it is not a financially feasible business proposition. We had a Styrofoam recycling business here, but the end result did not justify the costs incurred in the process … so Styrofoam is currently simply garbage waste! Shame! Perhaps one day, some level of government will see the long term environmental benefits, and a basic civic responsibility, and subsidize a business entering into that field.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. K E Garland January 18, 2021 / 2:42 pm

    lol This is a great reminder of why I love your poetry and blog so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 18, 2021 / 5:47 pm

      Thanks, KE. With COVID hanging over us like a dark cloud, and the new default format in WordPress, I haven’t felt compelled to post too often. Right now, it feels like we are turning a corner, emerging from a long, dark tunnel. There is little I can do about COVID or the economy or class/race injustices or global warming. Notice, I said LITTLE, not NOTHING. I can wear a mask and not go out unless necessary. I can shop locally and patronize local restaurants by ordering take-out when I can afford it. When people knock down my Black Lives Matter sign, I can stand it back up. I can put food in the free pantry cupboard now and then. I can minimize my energy use and recycle. These are all small things, but if everyone did them, it would make a huge collective difference. I enjoyed your post about the tooth, btw, and left a comment there. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. L. T. Garvin, Author January 21, 2021 / 12:59 pm

    What a catchy and informative poem! Recycling is so important. It’s good to have options to take things to a store. Recycling is something that is sorely lacking where I live. Maybe at some point the stores here will offer some options.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan January 21, 2021 / 2:32 pm

      Thanks, Lana. I love recycling, but two better options are reducing (not producing or using the item in the first place) and reusing (lengthening an item’s useful life by reusing it for its intended purpose or repurposing it). The pandemic has complicated things a bit, but when it’s past, you could reduce the number of plastic shopping bags in circulation by bringing reusable cloth bags, choosing paper bags, or (if you have only 2 or 3 items) not taking a bag at all. To reuse, I used to give them to vendors at the farm market, the library, or the gym (people used them to carry home wet swimsuits and towels). I reuse a few as wastebasket liners and I’ve seen people use them to pick up after their dogs, but I’d rather they be returned to the store and made into composite lumber than end up in a landfill, where they will never biodegrade. We should limit or halt the manufacture of any plastic destined to become landfill waste. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. T. Garvin, Author January 25, 2021 / 5:57 pm

        I agree that we should halt the usage of plastic bags. I have my own shopping bags that I use at Aldi, but I do reuse the ones I get from Walmart for my cat litter boxes. I suppose I should buy small paper bags for that purpose and forego the plastic ones. I have read about that horrible floating wasteland of plastic in the Pacific Ocean. Hopefully, now with a change in leadership, we can get back to taking better care of our planet.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Stine Writing April 1, 2021 / 11:52 pm

    This is great! I wish things were recycled like they should be. I have learned though that now that China is not taking recyclables from the US, the US is really just throwing it all into landfills. Apparently it is too expensive to really recycle the majority of the waste used in our country alone. I have some ideas…Fill every plastic bottle with sand and make homeless shelters for people. But when I mentioned that idea I was reminded that in the US there are SO MANY empty/vacant buildings, just sitting, waiting to get torn down, generating even more waste! Why do we all have to be so wasteful? I switched from water bottles to a Pur Water Pitcher in the fridge. It’s hard though because think about all the bottles of laundry detergent in all of the Walmarts across the US. That will NEVER go away!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 2, 2021 / 6:18 pm

      I was surprised and dismayed to learn that commercial recyclers don’t recycle everything they accept. But it’s better to have tried and lost than never to have tried at all (sigh). Vacant buildings could be turned into housing, small groceries (in food desert areas), libraries, or free WiFi cafes where people without internet at home could work remotely or let their kids do their schoolwork. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stine Writing April 2, 2021 / 6:54 pm

        There are so many ideas but it seems like things are just too expensive. Why is there such a big dollar sign attached to things that are good.


      • Just Joan April 3, 2021 / 5:57 pm

        Really, we can’t afford NOT to recycle. Maybe government should subsidize recycling, or fund research on how we can repurpose plastics.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Stine Writing April 3, 2021 / 9:15 pm

        It is amazing that our country, the world in fact, is so full of junk and there are people who could probably write a check and solve the problem immediately. I understand the whole thing about money and all that but when it is family money and you really haven’t worked that hard for it don’t you feel compelled to give more to solve worlds’ problems? Our politicians make a boat load of money as do our athletes. It just seems so crazy to me.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. judyrutrider April 2, 2021 / 8:13 pm

    There are some things I simply won’t buy because of excessive packaging. For instance, have you ever considered the frozen entrees called “Steamers”. Of course, that was an ill-considered name for food anyway considering that’s what we always called a pile of fresh stuff left by the dog.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan April 3, 2021 / 6:04 pm

      I hear you. I’ve gotten complacent during the pandemic… ordering things that arrive from Amazon packaged in heavy plastic, inside a cardboard box stuffed with enough plastic air pillows to build a raft. LOL about the “steamers.” It gets cold enough here in winter that you can actually see the poo steaming. One of my favorite goofy brand names is Garden of Eatin’. Munching on their organic blue corn tortilla chips seems almost sinful. 🙂


  5. murisopsis October 14, 2021 / 10:48 am

    Hi Joan, I was going through the list of followers and I realized it has been almost a year since you’ve posted. I just wanted to check in and see if you were okay. I miss your posts! As for the new format in WP I am still using the old classic editor NOT the horrible Block (head) editor. There is a way to change back to it! But it is hidden. If you want I can send you instructions… I’d love to see you posting again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Just Joan October 19, 2021 / 7:05 am

      Hey Muri! So good to hear from you. This past year has been challenging, not much time for writing or posting. I don’t want to elaborate on all that here. I’m not sick, just dealing with OPP and the passing of my beloved dog. I’m as OK as I can be, trying to keep my head above water. I don’t know if or when I’ll be back, but would love the secret info on Classic Editor, as block editor is cumbersome for poetry. Every time you return, it leaves a big line space and starts a new “paragraph.” Thanks for checking in.


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