Judge not? Just can’t help it, sometimes

Published 12:06 am Saturday, April 21, 2012

My lifelong friend and college chum, Blue Morrow, spent a lot of time fishing and camping with his dad, my dad and brothers, and a few others when we were growing up.

He loves to quote things he heard on those trips, and one of his favorites was about the late Ed Cooper.

“Ed Cooper used to always say that his wife told him it says in the Bible to judge not,” Blue would say during our college years.

It’s good advice Miss Nona gave Ed, and Ed in turn gave his fishing buddies. But try as I might, there are days when I can’t practice what Ed preached.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was taught there that are three sides to every story, “My side, your side and the right side.” Generally, I like to hear all sides and avoid passing judgment.

But since proper decorum prevents me from knocking on doors and asking for the other side of this story, I’ll ‘fess up and admit that, despite the lessons of my youth, I am quite judgmental of those who don’t have a green recycling bag out by the curb on garbage day.

When I jog on Tuesdays, I can’t help but notice the homes in my neighborhood where no green bag appears with the trash. Ever.

Local government makes it so easy. Call and request a recycling bag and it will appear. Put it out with your garbage on trash day and it will magically disappear. A new empty bag will appear in its place. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Similarly, I don’t understand why people in our office put aluminum cans and plastic bottles in the garbage can right beside the recycle cans. How much effort does that take?

We recycle tons of paper here each year, print on recycled newsprint, and sell the plates from our press for recycling.

At home, I am the recycle police. We reuse plastic containers to store leftovers and put as much as we can in our green recycling bag. I shop for groceries most weeks with reusable shopping bags and return plastic ones to the recycle bins just inside the doors of our big box. Still, my conscious bothers me that we aren’t composting to keep more waste out of landfills, and that I still drink bottled water.

Perhaps it is because the “Keep America Beautiful” campaign was so imprinted on my brain in elementary school. Maybe it is because my dad has picked up aluminum cans for years. If my brothers crushed them, they got the proceeds when the cans were sold. It’s a process I’m watching again a generation later as young Christopher lectures cousins at family reunions about throwing away aluminum cans and boasts of the money he’s collected selling cans.

Could be it is because I have listened to my Great Aunt Libby talk about composting and the “good dirt” in her yard that is a result of decades of efforts. She has the flowers to prove she’s right.

Whatever it is, plant me firmly among the 40 percent of local residents who participate in recycling efforts. And don’t be surprised if a sweaty woman in jogging clothes knocks on the door and asks why you don’t, too.

It’s Earth Day. Think about it.