The OEB

by | Apr 15, 2022 | Health and Wellness

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I must be the most confused person in the world. It has to do with trash, and I don’t get why I have three trash containers and dedicate at least two hours a week to trash sorting and collection. It’s not as if I don’t have anything else to do, but it did give me today’s blog topic! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to recycling, and taking care of the environment, and I’m willing to participate in some sorting, but enough is enough. I have three sets of directions posted on my refrigerator and another larger set posted on the door to my garage. They all remind me of what I need to do every day, but I still can’t figure it out. A good part of my daily trash routine has to do with figuring out what goes where.

As a child, we had one small garbage bag in the garage and the trash collectors picked it up once a week. Everything went in it, except the glass jugs for whole milk that were delivered every morning by one of the Hankins kids before we got up. We washed the bottle when it was empty and set it back on the porch for him to collect the next morning. That was our recycling, but we didn’t call it recycling, we called it “washing the milk jug.” We reused everything, like cottage cheese cartons stored leftovers. We’d slap a piece of tape on the lid that said, “vegetable soup” or “slaw” and the date. That was for a family of five. Easy—and we seldom filled the trashcan.

Now, me alone, one person, I have two giant, Costco-sized bins plus a four-foot-long orange bag for plastics, but not all plastics, “ONLY specific items.” According to the chart, the trash bin allows only three items: water bottles, hinged clamshell containers, and wax-coated items, but it would take two or three hundred of them to fill the bin. The recycle cart (blue for me) holds only new plastics, paper, metal, and cardboard. For some reason, plastic water bottles don’t qualify as plastics, but I don’t know why. They look and feel like plastic and the wrapper says plastic, so it’s a puzzle. The third container is a bright orange plastic bag that I have nicknamed my Orange Energy Bag, OEB, so I assume that anything put into it, plus the bag itself, can be recycled and it specifies that everything going in the OEB should be clean. Water bottle caps qualify for the OEB but not the bottles.

The literature on my refrigerator door says that plastic grocery bags are the worse offenders in the landfill and says to put them in the OEB, but that blows my theory that everything in OEB can be recycled.

The directions for the OEB specifically list toothpaste tubes, empty deodorant sticks, and squeezable pouches to be placed in the OEB, and I have spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out how to clean the toothpaste tubes, but I have failed miserably. It also specifically lists foam products, but the hinged clamshell containers that I receive from restaurants from time to time are foam, and they go in the trash. I wish someone could explain that. Milk jugs go in the recycle cart, but all other dairy containers go into the OEB. And there is no mention of the word GLASS, which is readily recyclable, just by washing, so I give them equal opportunity and put them wherever I have room. I have a near mountain of bubble wrap in the garage, and I don’t know where it should go. Is it a trash item like the water bottles or an OEB item like plastic grocery bags?  Or does it have its own category that the trash literature writers forgot to add?

I don’t really have a solution but felt like complaining about something today. I am sure someone has a handle on this issue, it’s just not me. These and other items are (re-) cycling through my mind.

If you enjoy Wrinkly Bits, please share with all your friends.  All of Gail’s books and blogs are available at gailcushman.com.


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