Possumhaw: Crushing cracker boxes

March 3, 2014 10:01:46 AM

Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]


"It's just common sense"  


Dickie Gossett 




The first time we met I was mesmerized by the whiteness of his hair and the blueness of his eyes. The corners of his eyes drifted into tiny lines that caused his eyes to sparkle, though no more so than his smile. 


One Sunday after fellowship he pulled a plastic coke bottle from the trash, "I can't believe people throw these away!" 




He said he recycles. "Like what?" I asked. 


"Plastics, paper, cans, everything," he answered. 


"Will you teach me?" 


He looked startled that someone would have to be taught. 


The lesson included how to flatten the plastic bottles to take up less space. He crushes them with his foot, like a homemade trash compactor.  


"I wondered if I should run over them with the car."  


He laughed and told about a house he often passed with the driveway full of beer cans. He finally figured out they were crushing the cans by driving in and out of the driveway. I knew that cans were easy to crush and good for venting frustration. Once, I had crushed a number of them and made tacky Christmas ornaments. I wasn't sure about gallon milk jugs. 


He stacks newspapers in bundles and tapes them up in manageable sizes with masking tape. He says if you don't tape them when you throw them in the bin they'll all come apart. I tied a couple with twine til I could get some masking tape. He suggested including crushed cereal boxes, cracker boxes and junk mail in with the newspapers. 


"You can deposit the papers and plastics in bins behind Belks, downtown behind the Methodist Church or east at the Sunflower parking lot. Cans go over to the island," he said.  


My nephew from California visited, and he said they recycle just about everything. The stores have no paper bags, and if you don't bring your own bags then you have to pay for plastic ones. I take my own bags to the grocery store. It conserves and the bags are stronger with better handles. It's said the average American uses 350 plastic bags a year. 


I figured if my friend and my nephew could recycle, I could bump it up a notch. Here's a short list of other things you can do: 


Dress warmer and reduce the heat, walk more and drive less, don't just recycle -- reuse. Properly dispose of items that can contaminate soil and water, fill up reusable water bottles (Americans use 50 billion plastic water bottles a year), turn off a few lights and enjoy the dark or sit quietly in the moonlight. Call catalog companies and get off the lists, go outside and plant a tree. 


My theory on catalogs is that they create desires you didn't have before you spent time, our most precious commodity, flipping through catalogs. You could spend time saved by stomping cans and feel a heck of a lot better about yourself and the universe.

Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.