I’m going green - one step at a time

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By Kellie Parkin

A few months ago you may have notice that I went green – in a big way.

I traded my cash for a clunker. That’s right, it’s a reused vehicle – 11 years old. It’s a pretty safe green van, too. I found that out when an even bigger clunker – driven by a pajama-clad teenager – rammed into my previous van of the same model, disrupting my plans to drive that beloved vehicle beyond the 300,000 mile mark (I only had about 22,000 to go). She took that clunker off the road without any help from the government.

If the damage from her monster truck hadn’t been enough to total it, the garlic sauce that sprayed the entire inside of the van – and us – was plenty. We had just picked up pizza and I was too hungry to wait for home – so I snuck a piece – boy, big mistake. Every so often, I still smell the garlic.

The van is just one example of how we reuse. I won’t bore you with the details of the wardrobe shuffle we do several times a year as kids change sizes. Garbage art and finding new uses for old junk are favorite pastimes in this house, as well.

We also reduce. Last year we replaced all light bulbs with fluorescents. It was a bit pricy, but now we use a third less electricity. And once we got used to the greenish tint in the kitchen, food tastes better, too. Our teenage girls were a little worried at first about their reflection in the bathroom mirror. We assured them they didn’t really look like zombies in real life – it was just the funny lighting casting a strange glow. I think they bought it.

Now when it comes time to recycle, I’ll admit that there is room for improvement. When I’m at work, or out in the community where recycling receptacles are readily available I absolutely recycle everything I can. But at home out in the sticks it has proven difficult.

Oh believe me, we try. We’ll pack up our aluminum in one bag, our paper in another – we’re hardwired to separate it out, even though it turns out it isn’t necessary – with every intention of taking it to the nearest county trailer (12.5 miles away) as soon as they’re full. But after about two months, either my husband or I will decide that we are so tired of looking at the pile of trash that has built up that we send it away with the garbage guys.

Outrageous, you say? In my defense I can only explain that in a household of eight people – yes that’s right, two adults, six kids – those bags fill up so fast that we just can’t transport them in one or even two trips to a recycle trailer. And unfortunately there’s no Willie Brown, Tom Deverin, or Eileen Bowers where we live to help us. So the cycle continues.

I learned the other day that Cedar Key School is getting its very own recycle trailer delivered to campus this week. Go Sharks!

First citywide, now school-wide. The entire picture is quite inspiring. And it’s all because of the motivation, enthusiasm and hard work of a handful of volunteers – and because of the widespread reaction and ongoing endeavors of so many residents.

So I’m thinking, maybe we can give recycling another go around. Our two oldest just moved out on their own this month – and school is back in session for the other four – which adds up to a lot less people at home on a regular basis. I think that this just may be the perfect time to implement an achievable plan.

Oh, and guess what? The Beacon recycles, too. The printed version of our publication is on recycled paper. And the ink we use is made from soy – rather than harsh chemicals – which makes it nice for the environment, you, and the press guys. We’ve been doing it for ages, but I thought it was high time we told people.