So it seems that our waste-free lifestyle may have rubbed off on someone else.
Grant’s cousin, Stephen, spent a couple weeks with us this month after following our footprints and experiencing his first season of treeplanting (the traditional BC student job). Little did he know he was landing smack in the middle of the Clean Bin Project, and that garbage cans would be in short supply.
The official rules in our house encourage guests to be waste free, but don’t require it. If people want to buy material goods, they can. If they want to buy coffee in a disposable cup, they can. We just don’t want them bringing their waste into our household. Generally we eat in, so food waste at home isn’t a problem. More often than not, people feel compelled to not produce garbage because nobody else in the house is. Where are they going to put it?
Stephen more than obliged us. He carried a reusable mug, ordered pizza slices sans paper plate, and got caught up in lengthly conversations on the topics of trash and recycling. After what I like to think was a marvelous vacation with his ultra-cool older cousins, he returned to Ontario and sent us the story of his recycling hardships on board the airplane. I think his experience would resonate with a lot of us,so here it is in his own words. Stephen flies from BC to Ontario:
“On my first flight, Vancouver to Calgary, I was rather thirsty and had chosen not to purchase a water bottle (you can’t bring any liquids through security anymore…) while in the waiting lounge. As such, I decided I could justify taking one of the plastic cups (which I noted bear the ‘recycle’ symbol on the bottom) when the complimentary drink service came by during the flight. When they visited again, this time on their ‘garbage’ run at the end of the flight, I asked where my plastic cup would be going. I was informed that though paper and aluminum are recycled, Westjet sends plastics to the seagulls surrounding landfills, I suppose effectively ensuring they too have something to drink their complimentary apple juice from.
“I told the stewarding person (politically correct?) that I would bring mine along for my next flight and then recycle it when I got home. I was met with a bemused smile.
“On my next flight, which was to be nearly five hours in duration, I fell asleep and devastatingly missed the first complimentary drink service. Come the second round several hours in, you will understand when I say I was ‘particularly parched’- all that heavy sleeping.
“However, when I presented my beaming customer service assistant with my cup, which I requested be used in place of the shiny new one he was wielding, I was met with a rather flustered “I can’t…that’s okay, I’ll give you a new one”, against which I asserted, “I’m trying to recycle, can’t you just use this cup…?”
“His answer was resounding, and cast a cloud over the rest of my afternoon, as I sat contemplating the two cups now looming side by side on my tray-table. “I’m sorry, we’re not allowed. Have a new one,” he had affirmed. So blunt, unthinking, UNNECESSARY.
“What, I wondered, could be the underlying logic behind the unwavering systematic distribution of a seeming infinitude of ‘unrecyclable’ recyclable plastic cups? Why, moreover, are customers not permitted to provide their own cup (one originating from their company and of the correct volume, I might add). The only reason I could think of was that I may have put poison in the cup while it was in my possession, and by serving me my own death the Airline would be in a rather sticky situation. If this really is the issue, I have to wonder at what point paranoia will be overcome by logic.”