I have a friend who is absolutely enamoured with the concept of recycling. Why, you would have thought that she had joined a religious cult. She approached recycling with the kind of overzealous approach one would expect from a fanatic. Her every waking moment was literally consumed with the concept of recycling.

She was so adamant about recycling that she placed recycling bins in places one would never expect to find them. She said this was so that everyone who entered her property would have no excuse for failing to recycle. I had known of her obsession for some time. Another acquaintance called and expressed concern. She asked that I go and see for myself how overblown the problem had become. I wanted to help the poor girl, so I took off work early one fine afternoon.

CARDBOARD

 When I went round to visit, I was met at her front gate by a huge blue bin marked CARDBOARD. Knowing my friend, I almost felt guilty that I had come to visit and forgot to bring any scrap cardboard as a house gift.

As I arrived at her front door, there was a stylish outdoor bin right next to the doorway. It had two segregated compartments, one for recyclable items and one for general trash. The galvanised containers were protected by a raincover. Now I really felt guilty about not bringing a recyclable this or that with me. I was searching my pockets for any applicable rubbish when my friend swung open her door.

The first words out of her mouth were, "Hello, love, did you recycle?"  I half-jokingly advised her that I was just checking to see if I had any rubbish to declare as I stepped forward to enter her dwelling. She remained unmoved. Her look was serious, almost maniacal. She said: "Did you recycle...or not?" 

Now I was really concerned. Not so much for her mental health as for my personal safety. I was about to apologise and tell her I had nothing on my person, when she thrust a plastic water bottle in my face saying, "Take this, love. Drink up, and then toss her in the bin!" 

Alright, then. I needed a bit of moisture as my mouth had gone dry all of a sudden. I dutifully gulped down the entire bottle of water under her leery, watchful eye. Upon finishing it, I replaced the cap and tossed the bottle into the proper side of the recycling bin. Immediately, her countenance changed to a warm and welcoming smile. She then gave me a proper greeting, and invited me inside.

Upon entering, noticed many colour-coded recycling bins placed at strategic points throughout the house. Each was carefully marked with plastic, cardboard, paper and other designations.

As we sat down for tea and a chat, she handed me a mail order catalogue. "Check out the recycling bins! They have one for every possible requirement! Do you have enough recycling bins in your home, love?"

Not wanting to have her revert back to the threatening serial recycler attitude, I humoured her. "Oh, why, yes...of course...I mean, I have one every few feet..."

Her eyes glistened and her smile widened almost ear to ear. "You do? Do tell me more..."

I quickly made up a, pardon the reference, rubbish tale, hoping she would not see through my lie.

Suddenly, she yelled, "Stop!" Her expression was serious again. "It's time." 

My heart sank. I felt the blood rushing from my face. I knew I was pale as a ghost. Oh my! I didn't want to go out like this.

PAPER

She then advised me that it was time to discard the catalogue and all the other junk mail and waste paper she had gathered earlier in the day. She handed me the other waste paper and junk mail and nodded towards a bin marked PAPER. We both grinned widely. I was so ecstatic. I was going to live!

My serial recycler friend laughed aloud as I nervously tossed the trash into the bin. I began to laugh too. For what seemed like minutes, we laughed. I felt really good about doing something good for the environment. We talked for hours and hours about the benefits of recycling, stopping only long enough to toss a bit of plastic or cardboard into this bin or the other.

Upon returning home, I felt awkward. No bins? How have I lived like this for so many years? I laughed long and hard at the thought of that question. I laughed until I cried, for in that moment, I realised the recycle obsession was contagious.