Funny thing happened to me at the library today. I have been working there a lot lately, now that it’s summer. I usually work from home and though I do have a sitter for my kids, it’s still quite loud and distracting for me to be home when they’re there. So, I’ve been packing up my laptop, files, mouse, notebooks and other supplies, and setting up shop in the library each day. Usually, I pack some small, quiet, neat snacks and a water bottle so I can stay there for long periods of time without leaving. Today, after packing up my files, papers, pens, mouse, and laptop, I grabbed my empty water bottle and headed out. On my way, I passed several waste cans, and even some paper recycling bins, but no bins to recycle my water bottle. I peered into one waste can and saw three or four empty plastic bottles. Most people would see this, think nothing of it, and move on.
But I couldn’t ignore the irony that I had just spent the better part of two days working on a project to improve recycling in the local community, and there, in my neighborhood library, not ten feet from the chair where I sat toiling over how to do just that, recycling was not happening. So, I went to the information desk and asked about it.
Me: Hey there, I see you have paper recycling bins. Can we put plastic bottles in those too?
Them: No, they are just for paper.
Me: Do you not have plastic bottle recycling bins for the library or are they somewhere else?
Them: Well, no. The thing is, there is no drinking in the library and we don’t want to encourage drinking by providing recycling bins for plastic bottles.
Me: [a completely blank stare]
I am dumbfounded. I have an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. I am reminded of sex education and the argument against giving teens condoms, because it might cause the sex to happen.
Providing plastic bottle recycling bins isn’t going to encourage drinking in the library any more than providing a condom will cause the sex to happen. Providing the bins prevents the placement of a perfectly good commodity in a landfill for thousands of years. Just like providing condoms prevents the pregnancy.
Did I mention there is a soda machine (that serves up plastic bottles) on the same floor where I was working, right by the bathrooms?
So, the library will be happy to take your money for the drink in the plastic bottle, but they don’t want you to drink it there, and if you do drink it there, they will not enable you to recycle it.
Not great for an institution of learning.
Library – 1 Recycling – 0