My wireless mouse just died. I popped out the old AA battery and replaced it with a fresh one.  My mouse is as good as new, but now I face the “old battery guilt.”

Electric batteries.

Recycling is something that became ubiquitous during my lifetime. I don’t think I ever heard of anyone actively recycling anything until I was an older child, and then it was just aluminum cans and newspapers.  During my twenties (the 1990’s) it seemed that all over the country recycling morphed from a choice to a responsibility.  And now, in many areas, it is a law (one of the many purely-pacifying, non-enforceable laws used to convince the masses that elected officials are abiding by the wishes of their constituents.  NO one is going to inspect individual garbage bags to check for those EVIL dead batteries. )  I’m not sure what good recycling does, other than keep two crews of garbage collectors working instead of one.  But I can’t ignore the societal guilt, and so my paper and plastic and glass all go into the blue bin.

The Daily Prompt yesterday asked the ten questions posed by James Lipton to his guests on Inside the Actors Studio. The prompt reminded me of a short story I wrote a very long time ago.  One of the first sci-fi stories I ever tried submitting, I’m guessing sixteen years ago, maybe?  I used those very questions as the basis of a machine that determines every person’s dream job, which leads to a perfect, balanced, happy, productive society.  Except it doesn’t.

I dug through my old files, blew the dust off and re-read the story.  I remember being so proud of it, I loved its clever twists and the personality of the protagonist. I loved my irreverent commentary on religion and on the idea of a ‘perfect’ society. I was proud of its length and supposed depth.

I really wish I hadn’t gone back and re-read it. My memory of the story was better than the reality. It wasn’t nearly as ‘clever’ as I thought, and the writing was terrible!

I just spent a few hours clicking through article after article about the debates on the value of recycling in general and with batteries in particular.  I read the phrase ‘contaminated groundwater’ about a hundred times, as the environmental sites all agree that is what not-recycling causes.  The articles against recycling say we put more money and energy into recycling than we could ever get out of it.  But we’re getting better (more efficient) at some (paper and glass) of it.

I read that when the costs get too high, towns just send the recycling to the landfills.  I have seen the garbage crews here in Philly dump both the garbage bags and the contents of the blue bins in to the same trucks, on occasion.   I read that landfills now are managed so that no groundwater ever comes in contact with the garbage.

One thing everyone agrees on:  reuse is much better than recycling. Reuse makes very tangible sense to me.  It doesn’t bother me at all to bring bags with me to the grocery store, or to flip paper over and use it again in the printer. Easy and sensible.

I published that terrible story yesterday – after fixing the most glaring grammatical mistakes.  I really can’t believe I submitted it in that condition.  No wonder it was so thoroughly rejected.

Why publish it now?  Well, why not? No one will ever tell me it is bad. It’s over 8000 words. I seriously doubt anyone will make it all the way through.  They’ll read to the end of the first section, click ‘like’ out of pity, if they are so inclined, and that’s it. And what good is it doing sitting on my hard drive, gathering digital dust and risking erasure? Reusing old stories, even bad ones, makes sense to me.

But the battery is going in the garbage.

And taking two smallish thoughts and mixing them up in to one  longer blog post?  Well that’s just efficient blogging.  🙂

7 thoughts on “Reuse or Recycle

  1. What about rechargeable batteries? We have been using them for years because hubby hates paying for batteries just to throw them away. Initially they cost a little more because you have to get the charger, etc. but if you treat them right, they last a good long time. So when you finally have to get rid of them you feel you have saved your planet & groundwater!

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  2. I found that story thoroughly enjoyable, very satisfying, like a lovely sci-fi…cake. I’m going to share it with my sister’s fella, he loves things like this. Thankyou for the read, yet again x

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    1. Thank you!!! That makes me glad I posted it. See, even if you are the only one to read it, that is still one more person than it would have reached stuck on the old hard drive. Again, thanks!

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