A number of years ago I volunteered to dog-sit an aging Black Labrador named Molly.
When we walked about the streets I was given a much different perspective on the goings in the neighbourhood.
What follows is what I wrote at the time.
GOING GREEN AND SEEING BLUE
In almost everything you do and everywhere you go, you are challenged to make things better for the environment; to be Eco-friendly, to make 'green' choices. One particular way of going 'green' is to go 'blue'.
Recycling is a 'blue' thing, and is associated with the use of blue boxes or clear/clear blue garbage bags. The use of transparent bags is so collection crews can quickly see if the contents of the recycling bags are in fact recyclable.
By recycling everything possible you divert a significant amount of waste from landfill sites. In my town, cans, bottles, papers and plastic containers can be mixed together and go loose in clear/clear blue bags or the blue boxes.
When recycling is put out for collection at the end of your driveway it is to be visible and accessible for pickup. This also means it is visible and accessible for neighbourhood viewing. It is amazing what those early morning joggers or dog walkers can learn about you and your lifestyle from that 'blue view'. As I walked my dog one bright summer morning, on garbage day, I learned a lot about my neighbours.
That must have been some party on Saturday night, lots of wine bottles, liquor bottles, pop cans and plastic party cups. I hope the noise didn't wake the baby next door. Cardboard boxes from disposable diapers, baby wipe containers and empty cans of baby formula show there's a baby in the house.
I see we're going to have a new neighbour soon; the sold sign went up last week. They must be sorting and downsizing in preparation for the move. Piles of old magazines are set out, all tied in neat bundles. Oh, oh, Playboy, I didn't think men ever gave up their collection of Playboy magazines. Must have been one of those “I will if you will' situations for there's a stack of Better Home and Garden right beside the Playboys.
Those three teenage boys down the street must be bottomless pits to feed. Pizza boxes, pop and juice containers, large economy size boxes of cereal, and lots of empty milk jugs.
I swear this dog feels honour bound to pee on every tree along our morning route. We've reached the corner and cross over to head for home. I'm doing my bit for the environment too. I've picked up, and am now carrying in a bag, all solid waste my canine friend dropped along the way.
My next door neighbour is elderly and lives alone. There's really little garbage, and next to no recycling at her place. Maybe I'll make extra for dinner tonight and run a plate over to her, check that she's OK and see if she needs anything from the grocery store.
Now my dog and I are home and I look at my recycling and wonder what my neighbours would discern about me. Doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, but loves junk food. Pop bottles, cookie boxes and ice cream containers. You can't see the chocolate bar wrapper I pushed down and out of sight. Good thing I'm walking the dog twice a day to burn off all those calories.
All those pieces of recyclable waste, that are the by-products of our lifestyles, tell a story.
So, do your part, recycle, but hide your secrets down inside of that transparent blue bag. You don't want that 'see-through' bag to be a 'tell-all' bag while it sits on the curb waiting for pickup.