This dumpster taught me a lesson I did not want to learn

This morning, I was rummaging through the recycling dumpster in my apartment’s trash room, looking for a shipping box.

An innocent Sunday morning task turned into a full-blown rant. My dumpster made me so mad. Or rather, what was in the dumpster made me so mad. Or rather, what some people put in the dumpster made me so mad

The amount of used brown paper bags being thrown out was depressing. Good grocery store bags, clean lunch bags, produce bags, just tossed.

Are we too lazy to reuse good Trader Joe’s grocery bags? (They even come with handles.) Are we in too much of a rush to fold them up and stash them in a closet for later use?

WHEN ARE WE GOING TO STOP CONSUMING AND START RECYCLING MORE? On an’ on, an’ on, I ranted to the dumpster.

But there was another issue going on that was of equal concern or maybe greater: My attitude.

An attitude of “self-righteous indignation” was creeping into my rant. “How could they? I would never do this. Look at how good I am for rescuing all these bags. I’m doing MY part. Why aren’t they?”

I became snarky and resentful of stupid people who disrespect recycling. Even those who don’t believe in global warming. What happened to practicing that core value “waste not, want not” and reuse good items?

This toxic attitude is so corrosive to my otherwise fairly content mindset. It had to go. No amount of lazy neighbors indifferent to recycling justifies me getting snarky. So, I shifted into a Gandhi “be the change” mindset and let it all go.

Just then a woman came into the trash room and headed to the recycling dumpster carrying a pile of Trader Joe paper bags. (No kidding, I’m not clever enough to make this stuff up.) I wanted to blast her, but I held firm my Gandhi attitude and said “Good morning (you idiot):  Are you throwing these out? I’d be happy to take them off your hands. I reuse brown paper bags all the time.”  Hint. Hint. You can reuse bags too, lady. (Again, you idiot.)

I am so not perfect. I get very angry, highly triggered by poor recycling practices. But I was so grateful that I didn’t drop a tiny snark – snark comment to her that I would later regret. Instead, I put on my big girl pants and “set an example”. Whether she got the message or not is none of my business. My business is to let her go. I’m no better than her. Maybe I’m a bit more evolved than her in recycling awareness, but no better.

I hate these lessons. But I choose to learn them because I must live with myself. I’m still mad but 1. I planted a seed in her mind and 2. I got some good bags.

I still need a shipping box.

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