From Grumpy to Grateful

I turned the corner and pulled up to the front of our house. Right smack in the front  yard someone had taken the last sip of a Mountain Dew and flung the empty bottle onto our grass. “Why would someone do that?” I asked myself. We live in a neighborhood that dead-ends at the end of the road. More than likely the person that threw that bottle out the window was home by the time he or she got the window back up.

My first reaction was grumpiness. So I’m supposed to pick up other people’s trash just because they’re too inconsiderate and lazy to take it into the house and put it in their own garbage. Okay, well then that’s just what I have to do.

But wait a minute. This might not be such a bad event after all. We live in Oklahoma, a state that hasn’t caught up with modern trends as far as recycling goes. However, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, located here in Durant, Oklahoma has just started a major recycling program and announced that they’re “Going Green.” Not just are they going green, but they’re offering free recycling service to the entire community. They recycle plastics, (see where I’m going with this?,) batteries, used ink cartridges, cardboard, paper, magazines, aluminum cans, and metals. Everything except glass. All one has to do is separate the items, rinse them, and bring them in.

My wife is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The city of Pittsburgh has had a recycling operation going on there for a long time. The fact that Oklahoma for the most part does not have one has always bothered her. When she read that the Choctaw Nation was starting recycling, she was exuberant. We had been taking our aluminum cans to a local recycling place, but that’s all they took of what we had to recycle. Six months of saving cans would usually net us around $7.00. Obviously we weren’t doing it to get rich. So, what to do with these bottles…

As are all soda bottles, these are recyclable. We already have a collection box going in the garage for plastics. Not just any plastics, but an awful lot if them. We also pile up magazines, cardboard, and  bag up aluminum cans ($$$) and other metal cans to take in for recycling. Note: It’s important to check the type of plastic.

Here’s a list of the numbers you want to look for that are recyclable. This info was taken from a Wiki on the net. This information is easy to find, and may include more types of plastic for a recycling center in your area.

These are the types of plastics that the Choctaw Nation recycles. They include soft drink, water and salad dressing bottles; peanut butter and jam jars, hula hoops, five gallon buckets, milk, juice and water bottles; the occasional shampoo / toiletry bottle, reusable microwaveable ware; kitchenware; yogurt containers; margarine tubs; microwaveable disposable take-out containers; disposable cups; plates and more. Look all on the bottom of the plastic you are considering throwing out. If it has an arrow-in-motion around a number like this one on the Mountain Dew bottle, consider doing something nice for our environment and recycle it (if you can.)

We are collecting all of our recycleable plastics in a big box lined with a plastic bag out in the garage. We rinse out our plastics as soon as we have emptied them. In fact, we clean them faster than we clean our dishes! If they’re going to collect out in our garage for a while, we don’t want to be inviting hungry little critters.

Here’s our collection boxes lined up in the garage. Don’t worry about that big white critter, that’s just our kitty boy Riley who has to check out everything.

So, what started out as a grumpy moment this morning turned into a grateful moment. Not to say that we’re glad that someone tossed their garbage into our yard, but it could have been worse. Since recycling is new in our area, this Mountain Dew bottle probably never would have been recycled if it had been taken home. It would probably would have gone to a garbage dump to sit for half of eternity. Hopefully this lesson learned also provided you a few moments of entertainment.

My fortune cookie thought of the day…

Some situations in life that make us grumpy could lead to gratefulness if we examined them in a different perspective.


About Les O'Riley

A technical writer by trade, I was laid off during the recession. I am currently finishing my Master's degree in Occupational Safety & Health. I am the Safety Lab Graduate Assistant for Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
This entry was posted in 2011 August and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to From Grumpy to Grateful

  1. Carl Stapf says:

    The earth is a very small planet in this universe and it is not an endless dumping ground for waste. Eventually it will fill up and contaminate the only true resource we cannot live without!
    “H2O” Water, once gone or contaminated – so are we…

    My fortune cookie thought of the day…
    That wasn’t chicken!

    • Les O'Riley says:

      Agreed, CJ. I hope the day doesn’t come where none of us want to sit by the seashore because it smells like a giant cesspool. The environment has been lenient with us, and has absorbed and neutralized a lot of what we’ve thrown at her, but even Mother Nature has her limits. I hope we don’t test her more agressively than we have in the past. Let’s hope for a healthy attitude and desire to change our ways, along with some wonderful breakthroughs from science.

  2. Luc says:

    Two great observations….lessons, actually.

    If we project the current population growth curve out several decades, we see that because population increases logarithmically, not arithmetically, we are going to run out of our currently available resources. So perhaps soon recycling will be required of everyone, rather than just a Greenie thing to do.

    But for me the lesson you teach regarding perception is even more useful.

    We don’t have freedom of choice in many areas, but by far the most important area in which we have freedom….a freedom usually overlooked….is in choosing our own perceptions. We forget that perception is an interpretation. All the meaning of the plastic bottle on your grass was given it by you. And we forget that is true about everything we perceive. It has no meaning until we give it the meaning we choose.

    Your realization you did not prefer the feeling you created by your first interpretation of having been victimized ….. and your subsequent decision to re-interpret the meaning of the event is an excellent teaching example.

    Now all I have to do is to man-up and accept responsibility for having caused every bad feeling I have by having chosen an interpretation of a given event that was “negative”, maladaptive, really.. And as soon as I realize I’m feeling bad because of my interpretation of a present event, I can choose then to change my thinking about it, just as you are teaching by example.

    Some will say that there are some events that are negative and there’s no way of getting around them with some forced, Pollyanna way of thinking about it. But even as I’m lying on my deathbed, how I feel about departing this earth is totally up to me. It all depends on how I choose to think about it.

    Wow, having that much power is a big responsibility, one that I too often duck and just go with humankind’s apparent penchant for choosing the interpretation that sets me up as an innocent victim,seeming unaware I feel bad by choice. But damn, feeling righteous indignation feels so good!

    • Les O'Riley says:

      Lucien ~
      I can’t promise that if one day I find my car up on blocks that I’ll be able to turn around my first reaction quickly, but it’s nice to see that I could at least not let a wisp of plastic ruin my day. Some times I wonder (although it seems quite natural,) is it really so easy to focus on a negative? Perhaps it takes more energy and that’s why later we feel worn out. Perhaps it would be easier if we just let some things go, rather than making things rough on ourselves. This might take a bit of sustained effort and determination. But little by little, it’s worth a shot.

  3. Mary Lollar says:

    Lester, I was also thrilled that the Choctaw were opening the recycle place. My problem now is just remembering to take them by there as we go out of town on 9th street. Another thought, do you think that they will soon quit using plastic for drinks and food, since they are telling us that to reuse the bottles to freeze water in or use the plastic dishes to reheat food in the microwave. What makes me think that there might be a move toward this is that Pyrex has come out with some really nice dishes with snap on lids that could go from refrig to microwave without fear of getting cancer if they had used plastic.
    If you lived on Washington Street you would get a lot of unwanted trash. And cigarette butts, seems they slow down for the stop light and get rid of the cigarette butt or the ash tray in the car.

    • Les O'Riley says:

      Sorry about the extra trash on Washington, but I understand what you mean. On cigs, the “method of disposal that really gets me is collecting a million butts in the automobile ashtray, and then dumping the whole thing, on the ground, in the WalMart parking lot. Pigs! As for if the day of plastic is going to pass, I doubt it. Not as long as it is the most cost effective container. But if we could get to the point where we recycle all of it, and it’s not causing us harm, that would be okay too. But there’s nothing as nice and cold as a beverage in a glass bottle. That’s my 2¢ worth.

  4. Barb says:

    Your post makes me realize how lucky we are in Oregon. Those bottles (including water bottles) are worth a nickel here. So I’m pretty thrilled when I find one on a walk. Of course, those don’t go into the recycle bins, we return them to get our deposit back.
    It’s fantastic the Choctaw Nation is setting the pace for the rest of Oklahoma. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
    Now tell me, what’s the status on plastic bags. The largest metro county here, just banned them. What’s happening there?

    • Les O'Riley says:

      Wow, Barb. Maybe we should ship you all of our plastic trash… Yeah, I remember the good old days when I worked for the City of Virginia Beach digging out ditches in the country, we’d find lots of glass coke bottles and that would buy our lunch, or at least another cold soda. WalMart does sell reusable cloth bags (with their logo on it, of course) for only 50¢ each. (or you can get fancy ones with flowers for $4) I have heard that some states are banning plastic bags, others charge you a small fee if that’s your choice. China banned them all-together, but whether they will not be around is still to be seen. One thing China does know… they buy and use 37 million barrels of crude oil every year in thin bag production. So are the reusable bags a better way to go? That’s not certain either. Check out this link for another perspective:“Are reusable bags the answer?”

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