By Annette Martel and Kelly Hagen

He Said:
Part of the allure of a column co-written by husband and wife would be in the comparison of how differently we might see the different parts of this world, as a man and a woman. However, no such allure will exist in this instance, as we both agree on recycling: We like it. Do it all the time. Can’t get enough of it.

The day we got our curbside recycling bin (with wheels!) was one of the happiest and proudest days of our lives together. So beautiful. So green. So wheel-y. We were taking pictures of it with the family for our Christmas card.
I don’t know if you fellow recyclers have noticed this, but it’s really easy to fill that bin in less than two weeks. Every thing recycles! Plastic products, paper products, glass, tin, newspapers, mail I haven’t opened, cereal boxes, milk cartons, other containers of breakfast, voodoo dolls of my enemies. You know, the standard stuff.

I notice neighbors who don’t use the recycling program, because (a) they don’t have the green containers out on the curb next to their black garbage containers, and (b) their black garbage containers are filled beyond capacity with appropriated junk.

To each their own. You’re missing out, though.

I recycle because I’m lazy. And with the advent of recycling, we can justify the existence of two garbage cans in our kitchen: one for trash, and one for recycling.

If we didn’t recycle and had two garbage cans in our kitchen, that would just be madness. First off, it’s just sending a message to any houseguests that these people make a lot of trash, and they can’t be bothered to empty the trash as often as it takes to fill one can. Secondly, how would I decide which of my two garbage cans to throw one burrito wrapper into? Left can or right can? The only rational behavior would be to cut the wrapper into halves, then throw a half of a burrito wrapper into each can, so that they’re nice and evenly proportioned.

And that would be a lot of work.

But when the difference between Can A and Can B is trash and recyclable goods – every thing makes sense. And I don’t have to take out the trash/recyclable goods as often.

You think I could get away with four cans? Still evenly distributed, less taking out of the trash, but the added work of cutting all refuse into halves. I don’t know. I’ll think about it. Stay green.

She said:
It was about one year ago that we got our shiny, new recycling bin, and probably six months since my husband tried to ride it down the hill like a go-cart. But we’ve been filling that thing to the brim every single fortnight. Beyond the brim. It’s obscenely full. I wonder what the neighbors think of us.

Last week, as I rolled the regular, old, black trash bin to the curb, it felt a little light, so I popped the lid and looked inside.

I looked in disbelief at one tiny, little bag of trash sat all alone at the bottom of the bin. “Shenanigans!” I thought to myself, as I stopped in my tracks and my pointer finger popped up and pointed at the heavens, indicating an idea. Not sure if the neighbors were watching at that moment.

How on earth could a family of four have only created one bag’s worth of trash for the week? When I got back in the house, I looked around. No, there wasn’t a heap of trash sitting in the middle of the living room. We had just generated a very small amount of trash that week. It was one of those weeks where it wasn’t anyone’s birthday, so no present wrapping paper. It wasn’t Christmas or Easter or Flag Day.

However, our recycling bin runneth over with various plastics and cardboards and … Is that a voodoo doll? There’s a lot of them here. Huh, that’s on the official list from the city of recyclable things, too.

What a great day to be alive. I know what you’re thinking. “Wow. These people need to get out more. Their neighbors must be extremely tolerant.” You’re not wrong. However, we do get kind of excited about recycling.

It’s nice to think of the things that we so cavalierly throw away as having a new life after we’re finished with them. It also makes you think, “Hey, maybe this recycled cardboard that’s in this box of Fruity Pebbles is made of out of cardboard that Al Roker put into his recycle bin.” What a small world. It’s like I’m on the “Today Show” right now. Look, Ma! I’m famous!

It’s never easy being green. But I’m glad we are.

Columnists Annette Martel and Kelly Hagen are married, have two kids, live in Bismarck, and tried to recycle a VCR one time. They can be reached at