Militant Recycler… Militant… [Part 1]

The term ‘Militant Recycler’ was used for a Radio 2 topic recently, and in learning of this term I discovered that I fall into that category.

I recycle as much of my own stuff as possible, and I also take rubbish home with me from other people’s homes when something that could be recycled isn’t going to be. Sometimes I offer to take something away for someone only to discover that they know all about recycling that thing, and are keen to do so, but other times I’m finding myself getting blunt with people when I know that they have the same recycling facilities as me but aren’t in the routine of using them.

A recent example was a birthday party held round my sister’s house. There were plastic food trays and polystyrene from gateaux box that, when it was determined that they would be thrown in the general waste bin, I keenly took away with me on my cycle home to put them in my own recycling boxes. I made it known I was doing this and could see by the look on my sister’s face that it didn’t go down well. What did go down well though was the leftover food that I also refused to see going in the bin.

Another thing that seems particularly ‘militant’ is the act of prepping but perhaps this because of how I define the word militant. Prepping, if you don’t know, and according to Google is:

the practice of making active preparations for a possible catastrophic disaster or emergency, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.

According to Google:

favouring confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause.
“the army are in conflict with militant groups”
a militant person.
“militants became increasingly impatient of parliamentary manoeuvres”

Previously I wouldn’t be confrontational, and I’m certainly not a violent person, but as per the noun, I find myself becoming impatient with people. To me, militant is more about being regimented, focused and methodical. With prepping, the act of stocking up on food in preparation for a time when it might be needed, I decided what foods I could keep a quantity of, set aside some cupboard space, and got into the routine of buying extra each time I went shopping. That was until a supermarket gave me three offerings of the equivalent of 20% off if I spent £60 or more, plus free delivery in the run up to Christmas. So I took them up on their offer and now, saving myself the multiple trips by bicycle, I’ve filled a cupboard with enough catfood and other canned goods, as well as coffee (see the priorities here) to last me six months or more. I call that militant determination!

But in returning to how I regard others, I try not to be too blunt about their actions and choices, but as I said, I find myself becoming increasingly annoyed. I wonder if this is partly impatience due to increasing reports regarding deadlines and how we’re running out of time to reverse the damage caused to our planet.

I find myself picking up litter; typically discarded drinks cans and bottles which I can recycle; sometimes I think it’s just something someone dropped by accident, other times I visualise them carelessly throwing these things out of a car window in frustration of the temporary fix the beverage provided for the money they had to spend for it. And then there are the empty cattle feed sacks that must have been blown away with the wind, that I collect and take home, because I can reuse those.

Would I confront someone if I saw them drop something, purposely or not? Perhaps; it depends on the situation. I wouldn’t say I favour that method as the Google definition of the term militant stipulates, instead I quietly go about my business, occasionally picking up discarded things here and there, hoping it makes the place look a little more loved, I live in the countryside after all. I have the idea that discarded litter catches the subconscious eye of the kinds of people that are likely to drop litter, and therefore they deep it to be acceptable behaviour, just like how I hope that having people see me ride a bike everywhere makes them consider using their car less.

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One comment

  1. There’s risk to intentional confrontation. If the reward to risk is high enough, then you might consider it. As a family man, with kids, wife, responsibility beyond just myself, I’d prolly never confront a litterer. We’d probably just pick up the trash and carry it until we found a bin.

    In fact, I think all decisions are grounded in such a RvR context. We may not think of it this way at the time, but it is. Your choice to bike on dangerous British roads is one where you find the reward of the trip outweighs the risks of death or accident. Those two hours I wasted watching that useless Netflix movie was more rewarding (I thought) than writing or blogging. I made the choice — and took it.

    Recycling is, in the end, a pointless endeavor. In a thousand, a million, a billion years — who would give a crap about that bottle, or jug or newspaper? There won’t be anyone to care. The universe does not care about recycling.

    But, people do. Only if to make themselves feel better in the moment. To believe that they are “doing something for the better.” Of course, in the long run, nothing really matters — so anything one chooses to do is “just fine” as far as the universe is concerned.

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