Saturday, February 18, 2006

Recycling and bicycling...

A friend and I got in a long conversation last night about recycling, specifically my experience of recycling. How long have I been doing it, what do I recycle, etc. I had to think back to answer a lot of her questions. As many of my readers know, I am rather obsessed with recycling, though our conversation last night revealed that there is a whole 'nother level of recycling obsession that I haven't reached yet! Anyway, my response to my friend went something like this:
I began to recycle so long ago I don't remember how long it has been. I grew up in a home where we recycled newspaper at our school's paper drives. My dad brought home piles of used computer paper -- the old wide pin-feed paper with the green bars on it -- and we reused it for drawings, banners, and other projects. In my college years, I learned about waste reduction in very physical ways: I worked at a grocery store where various employees broke down the cardboard cartons for recycling and sorted the glass soda bottles for return to the bottling companies. The latter was a frequent assignment for me, and even though it was a dirty, sticky job, it struck me as a worthwhile effort.

Later on, when we moved to NC, long before there was curbside recycling, I began recycling in earnest. Used to be, the fire stations here would collect aluminum cans and recycle them, so I took can over there. I took our newspapers to the paper drives at local schools; later on, newspapers went to a collection site at a nearby high school. I reused paper grocery bags (before and after the advent of plastic grocery bags) as wrapping for packages that went across the country to friends and family (yes, folks, the box used to have to be covered in paper or the USPS wouldn't accept it!) I also used the bags to make newspaper-filled "blocks" for the kids to build with, and the kids cut up more bags to make costumes and other arts and crafts projects. I've always washed and reused plastic bags from bread and such and glass jars and other reusable containers, though I don't acquire as many now as I used to. Since the grocery stores started recycling paper and pastic bags -- that's been at least ten years -- I have recycled excess and worn out plastic and paper bags of all kinds that way. Recently, as I've found more opportunities for recycling, I've recycled more things: dead batteries, broken electronic the link above for a list of all the things that can be recycled!

Recycling has always been a way for me to do a small action that might help save the earth, to lighten my footprint upon this beautiful world that is suffering from so much trampling at the present time... I believe that the accumulated recycling effort of one person over a lifetime can have some positive impact, and I also have always hoped to provide an example to my children and others of how they can be effective in these small and personal ways.

So now, my readers, I have a request to make of you: if you can spare a moment, please share your experience of recycling either as comments on this blog or in an e-mail to me; my friend is writing a book that addresses some of these issues, and she welcomes personal stories to include in her book and to use for ideas. She would also like to know peoples' experience of relying mainly on biking or walking or mass transit to get most places (i.e. because of not having a car or as an attempt to minimize car use.) If you have expoerience of that to share also, write about that, too. Contributing to my friend's efforts can be another small and easy way of making a difference. Thanks to all!


I woke up early this morning (early for a Saturday -- 6:43 a.m.) thinking about friendship, thinking back over the years to when I first came to Charlotte (June '76) and didn't know a soul here. I missed my family and friends back home terribly, and we wrote letters back and forth and chatted on the phone when we could. (This was way before the days of cheap long distance, cell phones, e-mail, and instant messaging, so phone contact was not all that frequent!) I worked temp jobs to pass the time until I could find a teaching job, and I met good people there, but I wasn't at any one job long enough to develop any long-term friendships. I wasn't going to church at the time, so that wasn't an avenue for meeting people. I was taking riding lessons, but everyone at the barn was either a lot older than me or a lot younger. It was a really long summer. In August I started my first teaching job, and began to settle in. That first year teaching I made a really good friend, a science teacher, but at the end of that year she moved to Atlanta. I was devastated! The next year I got to be good friends with the teacher who took her place, but at the end of that year she moved to Raleigh! Then I got pregnant and quit my job -- and there went what I thought was my best avenue for making friends! I had met a lot of other people during those two years, and I kept in touch with some of them, but none of those friendships were of the sort that I had left behind in Atlanta... But lo and behold, other avenues opened up, and I subsequently learned much about friendship, especially the truth of the old adage: to have a friend you have to be one. Eventually, through those early experiences here, I learned to be grateful for my friends back home and to trust that I would find friends in my new home, and I discovered that the route to friendship was doing the things that make my life meaningful, letting go of worry about when and if I would find a friend, and living in the present moment.

I have friendships now with all kinds of people, and these friendships have sustained me through the proverbial "thick and thin" (both literally and figuratively!) Friendships don't appear out of thin air, they begin with a contact, an openness to learning about each other, listening during a walk or a meal or while working on a project together... So where did I meet all these people? Thinking back, I see that I met one really good friend on a walk around the block, others I met through my volunteer work (La Leche League, Mecklenburg County Literacy Council, Mathcounts coaching, Math Club...), some I met through my tutoring work (parents of students), some from church and support groups, lots were parents of my children's friends, or parents I met through homeschooling connections, or friends of my children, or friends of other friends... and quite a few fall into several of those categories. Some have stuck around and others have moved away, but some of those latter I am still in touch with. Some who I lost touch with I later reconnected with, a joyful experience for both of us! That's happened a couple times just in the last year. And of course -- last but not least -- some of my closest friends are family members, both blood relatives and "married-ins".

So, how to find a friend? The only way that has ever worked for me is to put myself out there, follow my interests, and keep my ears and my heart open all the while for the adventure and blessing of friendship. I act on this last bit by trying to remember to treat each person I meet as though they already are a friend. That, to me, is the meaning of the saying I quoted above.

My friends have taught me how to be a friend. Through their patience and care, I discovered over the years that it takes work and time to build and sustain a friendship -- friendships don't happen overnight, or by chance. Good friendships have a lot of listening built in, and I love to listen to my friends about as much as I like to talk...well, maybe even more. :-) For me, there is no better feeling than to know I have given support and encouragement to a friend... I am so grateful for the presence of my friends in my life, for all the love and forgiveness and laughter and sorrow we have shared.

(...and as she takes her sappy self off to breakfast, the strains of "Precious Friend" echo in the background...)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

blogging, justice, peace, headaches

True confessions: I've been neglecting my blog while joining in discussions on another blog... among other things, on that blog we have been discussing justice, the existence of God & the problem of pain, what language the Bible was written in... it's been interesting. On the way to looking up the slogan (actually a quote from Pope Paul VI) "If You Want Peace, Work for Justice", I found this site which has tons of quotes on peace, justice, and related issues. It is quite thought-provoking to read through the quotes here. Also on my web surfing I found a site that sells magnetic ribbons with an unusual slogan...

It's been a real busy week (not that I'm complaining!) and it ain't over yet... the Math Club meets this morning. So it's not so good that I woke up 2.5 hours early with this splitting headache. I'm going back to bed, but I'll try to write again soon...