Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Recycling Quandary
Wendy Vega

I moved to Los Angeles in 1978 and made friends with a group of fellows that ran a business called, ReCyCal. That’s a catchy name. It was my introduction to recycling. I’ve been recycling ever since.


Recycling rules are different in different places.

In Sherman Oaks, CA, we put everything except lawn trimmings into the big blue container. Trimmings went into a big green one.

In New York City, they want you to peel the foil off the frozen lasagna and recycle it. It’s very fussy, I think, and very strict. In Plainview, Long Island, you have to take the paper off the cat food can and wrap the newspapers in twine or the garbage won’t touch it. In Larchmont, we dump plastic and glass into one dumpster and paper into another.

I’m not sure what happened to ReCyCal, but since folks are such fanatics about it, I decided to find out if recycling really helps. After much reading, I sense that it helps, a bit. Yet, some people can’t be bothered.

Some folks all have their own recycling ethic. If they’re around a bin, they’ll recycle. If not, they trash it. It’s easy. There are trash bins everywhere. Some people, like me, will hold onto a water bottle until I get to Trader Joe’s, where I get a nickel for it. Hey, I paid extra for it going in and I want my money back.

On the other hand, if I have an old can of peanut butter, I’m tossing it. The water used to clean it out would be worse for the planet than dumping it.

When I worked at ABC News, I asked the janitor what he did with the recycled paper, as it looked like it was going into the trash bin. It was. After all the careful saving of scripts and rundowns, they ended up in the trash.

When I lived with my boyfriend two years ago, his college-aged daughters castigated me every time I tossed something. A few times, I saw them trashing stuff. What the heck, I asked? Oh, well, sometimes we get lazy, they said. Therein is the problem.


I know the fleece I wear in the winter is made of old soda bottles.

I'm good with fleece, to keep my cozy in winter, is from soda bottles. I know that the paper bags I use are mostly recycled. I try to bring my own bags, but I forget sometimes.

Then there is the plastic bag conundrum. I remember back in the 1980s, they changed grocery bags so they were thinner and better for landfill. Now they are trying to ban these. Granted, they rip and you have to double them to make it home, especially if you’re groceries have corners.

Still, I like plastic bags, thin or not. They’re good for cat poop. There is almost no place to recycle plastic bags, except in grocery stores. Why is this, if they're such a big problem?

This brings me to the real plastic bag issue I want to raise. Cities are trying to ban grocery bags, but what about trash bags, which are larger and thicker; contractor or leaf bags, those big black things. Those things will stay in the landfill until dinosaurs once again roam the earth.

Those very same people that are trying to outlaw plastic bags are running their leaf blowers, spewing poison into the air. That’s another column.


I agree on banning plastic water bottles.

What are we, infants, which we have to suck on bottles? Personally, I love water out of a bottle and I drink far more than I would out of a glass. I’m not sure why. 

George Carlin did a routine on water bottles. “When did everyone get so thirsty? We weren’t this thirsty in the 1960s.” That’s true. We drank when we were thirsty, like pets do. Now you have to drink when you’re not thirsty or you’ll get UTIS when you’re old and you die. Oy.

Recycling is great, but it’s just a small part of saving our planet. You can’t justify running a leaf blower by saying, well, I’m a good recycler. It’s like going for a jog, coming home and lighting a ciggie; it neutralizes the whole deal. Recycling needs to become a lifestyle. This includes driving earth-friendly cars and not spewing poison into the air.

Me, I drive a hybrid and recycle nearly everything, even things. If I’m tired of a thing, I give it away so someone else can enjoy it. This goes for clothes, furniture and canned goods. It’s not just about garbage. So take heed and do better. Saving our planet works if you work it. For now, I’m taking out the trash.

Wendy Vega ran the board for radio legends "Cousin Brucie" and Dan Ingram, at WABC-AM, and Zacherle at WPLJ-FM, all in New York City. At WNEW-AM, Jonathan Schwartz stole her lunch and she became great friends with the legend of radio legends, William B Williams. Then Vega moved to news, first WINS-AM 1010, in New York City, later television stations in Los Angeles. Today, she is a former television news editor replaced by a machine. She's a writer living near the train station in Larchmont, New York. Joan Rivers came from Larchmont, NY. Maybe the same fate will befall Vega as befell Rivers. Watch this space.

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