Recycling by James R. Coggins

Municipalities have strange rules.

Many municipalities have banned grocery stores from giving out free one-use plastic bags for customers to carry groceries home in.

Municipalities have not banned one-use plastic bags containing produce or prepackaged foods from the same stores.

Instead of giving their customers free one-use plastic bags, the stores now sell their customers thicker, multi-use plastic bags.

Customers, not realizing the banned bags were one-use plastic bags, often used them more than once, such as for garbage bags.

Municipalities have also not banned thicker, one-use garbage bags from being sold in the same stores, garbage bags that must now be purchased since the formerly free plastic bags can no longer be used for this purpose.

Our municipality insists that garbage must be wrapped in plastic garbage bags to protect garbage collectors from getting COVID.

The same municipality insists that recyclables cannot be placed in even recyclable blue bags because recyclable collectors cannot get COVID. They must be placed loose in the recyclable bin.

The municipality says that compost cannot be put into plastic bags, even compostable plastic bags, because compost collectors are also immune to COVID.

This creates unending dilemmas for householders. Is that Macdonald’s hamburger wrapper clean paper? If so, it goes in the recyclable bin, where it cannot be in a plastic bag. Is it dirty? Then it must go in the compost bin, where it also cannot be in a plastic bag. But what if the wrapper is waxed? Then it should go in the garbage, where it must be in a plastic bag.

The municipality says that cardboard and paper can be placed in the blue recyclable bin only if it is clean and dry.

If it rains, the clean, dry cardboard in the blue recyclable bin gets wet because it can’t be put in a blue recyclable bag and the lids of the blue recyclable bins have all blown away. (None seem to ever blow on to other people who have lost their own lids and could reuse them. Maybe they go to the same place as lost socks.) But, as long as the paper and cardboard were dry when they went into the bin, it does not matter how sodden they get after they were put in.

Our municipality now says that milk containers, like pop cans and plastic drinking bottles (but not other plastic bottles), can be returned to recycling depots for a refund of ten cents. However, cream containers cannot be returned to recycling depots and must be put in the regular recycling bin. (Now I am wondering: Should half and half containers be cut in two, with one part returned to the recycling depot for a deposit refund of five cents and the other part put in the recycling bin?)

And they wonder why people become cynical about government rules and saving the environment.

And I wonder why people think they are wiser than God.

About jrcoggins

James R. Coggins is a professional writer and editor based in British Columbia, Canada. He wrote his first novel in high school, but, fortunately for his later reputation as a writer, it was never published. He briefly served as a Christian magazine editor (for just over 20 years). He has written everything from scholarly and encyclopedia articles to jokes in Reader’s Digest (the jokes paid better). His six and a half published books include four John Smyth murder mysteries and one other, stand-alone novel. In his spare time, he operates Mill Lake Books, a small publishing imprint. His website is
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