“Wow, People Are Really Bad At This” Thoughts from the Recycling Center

This article is a contribution written by Mallory Richards!


Upon unearthing my first and hopefully last butt plug in the ‘papers’ heap of student recycling, I thought to myself “Hey, why would someone think this is recyclable?” (Other questions, too profane to publish, also raced through my mind).


Being honest, I was never able to answer that question, nor did I particularly dive deep in trying to, but the question is one I’ve asked myself multiple times a shift. Treasures usually range from things like banana peels, old socks, and even the occasional used condom (luckily things like butt plugs are the exception, though the used condom thing is unfortunate). Thinking back to my childhood, I wonder if my parents ever led me to believe that things like sushi, towels, and water bottles full of urine were indeed okay things to recycle. Alas, my memories of childhood are fuzzy, but I can’t recall ever believing that recycling those things was a good idea. However, despite four years as a “maintenance center intern,” as I refer to this unglamorous position on my resume, I’m still not the recycling overlord I perhaps wish to be. But then again, it doesn’t seem like anyone here is. For this reason, my colleagues, Willa Grace Moore, Suzy Goldberg, and I have put together a comprehensive how-to of recycling, as follows: 

  1. Take bottle caps off of your bottles before you recycle them! They’re not actually recyclable, and it’s not actually that fun spending a Monday afternoon unscrewing water bottle caps.
  2. Empty bottles before you recycle them! Trust me, it’s more pleasant for us ~interns~
  3. Flip over your plastic bottles. Does the triangle recycling symbol have either a 1 or 2 in it? If you answered no, it’s not recyclable in Ohio! Bummer.
  4. Hey, wanna send us notes? Love letters and confessions are both highly recommended and greatly appreciated
  5. Food isn’t recyclable. (Is that news?) Some of it is compostable. That’s not the same. Don’t recycle your food.
  6. Separate your paper recycling from your bottle/can recycling! It makes our lives easier, plus then we can recycle more of the paper! 
  7. Can you spit your dip spit elsewhere??? Thx. 
  8. We are human. If you think it’s gross, most likely we do too! #dobetter 


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