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A baby boomer succumbs to the recycling movement

by Ginger Costen

I didn’t go easy into this entire recycling concept as it seemed liked it was just one more task among many that sounded great and doable at the time, but would eventually end up being my responsibility. Like when the kids were younger and begged me for a hamster (or kitten, dog, etc.), pleading with promises to “clean the cage every day” and “we’ll make sure he has fresh food and water before we go to school.” 

It wasn’t long before the cuteness factor faded and I was the one cleaning the cage because I couldn’t stand the smell and I was the one feeding and playing with the furry little thing because I felt guilty for being such a spineless pushover for my children.

So when the kids became adults (some of them haven’t grown-up so I can’t make that generalized statement for all of them) and left home and this Earth Day concept started to gain momentum, they started complaining that their parents weren’t doing enough to take care of the planet. Well let me tell you how quickly their past came flying into the present. I had a long list of, “remember when you wanted a hamster?” and “remember when you promised to walk the dog every day?” or “remember when you swore that you’d never borrow my car and return it with an empty gas tank?”

“Well, sorry… I don’t have the time or energy left to worry about saving the planet too!” Was my response as I was cleaning the cat’s litter box, knowing full well that I had to take the dog for a walk when I was finished. (Thankfully, hamsters don’t have the life span of dogs and cats or I’d still have one of those too.) 

I felt even more secure in my thought process when I’d visit their homes and see the mountain of recycling items waiting to be washed on the kitchen sink. “Isn’t it counterproductive to save the planet by recycling cans and bottles when you’re wasting water and oil or electricity (hot water) making sure they’re clean first? Isn’t it better to make the landfill bigger than run out of water?” was my response.

But they started having children, which meant I had grandchildren, and that changed everything. Suddenly it was no longer a matter of adding a responsibility, it was more a matter of taking responsibility by making sure the grandchildren had the best that life could bring. I could no longer ignore the fact that landfills were growing beyond any planned capacity. I could no longer justify the callused thought process that it won’t be my problem – because it is mine. It is my careless and thoughtless attitude towards recycling my own trash today that will make it even harder for future generations to solve the pollution and global warming problems of tomorrow.

As a member of the Baby-boomer Generation it is my responsibility to make sure the Generation X and the Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) at least get some of the memories that we have of fresh water, clear skies, big beautiful trees, native animals and a planet that we knew would support life long after we’re gone.

By recycling a few cans and bottles, newspapers, electronics and other repurposed items, this group of Baby boomers (also known as old folks) won’t save the world. But we can slow down the destruction, giving time for our grandchildren – several of mine by the way are just brilliant enough to do it single-handedly – to develop ways to make things better.  After all, they’ve come from good stock – look at what their parents have accomplished.

So I challenge all the other late-blooming “Boomers” out there to call your local waste disposal (we used to call it trash) company and find out how easy it is to recycle. Get involved in the future by helping today. Oh, and I’d like to thank my daughter Joscilyn Lengenfelder for calling Pratt Trucking and getting the Costen home on-board the recycling movement. Hope everyone took the time to help clean up your community on Earth Day.