How My Love of Recycling Took a Deadly Turn

People are fanatical about sports. They paint their faces in team colors, spend thousands of dollars on tickets and merch. They scream and cheer like their lives depend on that touch down.

I don’t understand sports #ReasonsWhyImSingle. But I do understand this level of fanatical, unstoppable passion!

I’m that way about recycling!

My name is Mary Lane and I’m a recycling fanatic.

Which yes, makes me dorkier than a dancing frog wearing suspenders and a bow tie.

I slam dunk my bottles, cans, plastics, papers, and cardboards into the recycle bin with the fervor of Lebron freakin James.

Lebron and this pug (and let’s pretend the dog is named Lebron too).

When I see my roommate has thrown another recyclable plastic takeout container IN THE TRASH, I curse with the fury of a coach about to lose the most important game of the year. *$*@^($!)(@$&!!!

Every time I see a little old lady balancing giant sacks full of bottles, digging through trash looking for more, I want to cheer.


I want to hoist her onto my shoulders and scream, “You the MVP, girl!!!! Saving the world one 5 cent deposit at a time, YOU’RE MY HERO!!!!”

And don’t even get me started about plastic bags

You get intense about March Madness brackets, I get intense about taking out the recycling. Potato, patato.

One cold morning in New York City, the intensity of my devotion reached another level. Taking out the recycling unexpectedly became a matter of life and death.

I’m not joking! I’m hardly even being dramatic! 

In one hand, I held a Trader Joe’s bag full of junk mail, receipts, an Amazon Prime box or two: the usual. My other hand opened the lid of the large, black bin that sits at the end of the row of bins in front of my apartment building. On one hand, I love this bin! Because I love recycling!

On the other, it drives me crazy. There’s always something in this bin that doesn’t belong. A bottle when it’s supposed to be all PAPER! A plastic bag when it’s supposed to be all PAPER! Two terrified eyes peaking out of the plastic bag when it’s supposed to be all P- WHAT THE- !!!!!

I slammed the lid of the bin down and contemplated running away. It was like a scene from a horror movie! EYES do not belong in the RECYCLING BIN!!

If I ran away, those eyes would haunt me for the rest of my life. Had I actually seen them or was I hallucinating? I had to look again. I opened the lid of the bin.

A tiny mouse stared up back at me.

It was almost cute. But far more strange than cute. How did a mouse get in the paper recycling bin? Why was it just staring at me, terrified, not running away? I peered further into the bin.

The mouse was on a sticky trap. Seriously? Someone had caught this mouse on the most inhumane kind of trap, then thrown it, STILL ALIVE, in with the RECYCLING.

“MICE ARE NOT RECYCLABLE!” I wanted to bellow, so my entire apartment building could hear, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!

I hesitated. This was so much more disgusting than picking the usual soda can out of the paper recycling. I thought about the movie 127 Hours. This mouse was James Franco, gnawing off his arm to survive. Except there were no rescue helicopters. There was just me.

I thought about dying, all my limbs attached to a sticky surface, with garbage raining down on me until I starved…. The lifespan of an urban dwelling mouse is 1 year, at best… I was wearing, heavy, sturdy boots…

I knew the kind thing to do, I mean, I  read Old Yeller in grade school. ….But did I have the guts to do it?

Gingerly, I lifted the plastic bag containing the mouse and sticky trap out of the recycling bin. I put it on the sidewalk, sandwiching it between a solicitation from Roundabout Theatre Company and an expired coupon. I whispered, “Sorry, Old Yeller!” and stomped down on the pile with the full strength of my Dr. Martens.

The deed was done. Suffering was over. I picked up the wreckage and placed it in its final resting place. The trash bin, not recycling.

I walked away, feeling perhaps the way sports fans feel when their team loses the Big Game. Defeated and a little sad. Ready to drown my sorrows (hands) in a bottle (of hand sanitizer).

And that is the story of how I truly became an adult. And a mouse mercy-killer.

I still love recycling. My neighbors? NOT SO MUCH!

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

7 thoughts on “How My Love of Recycling Took a Deadly Turn

  1. Mice are cute to me! And recycling is mandatory, not about like anymore. I don’t live in a building but in a house and our recycling has to be neat as hell to avoid being ticketed. But I would do it anyway because, I can’t stand thinking about the ever-growing footprint of wasteful, dirty people. I think I am a tree-hugger as well.

    1. I WISH it was mandatory! There are still many smaller businesses in NYC that would have to pay for recycling pick-up out of pocket. Most don’t want that expense, so they just throw EVERYTHING away, and the city let’s them!! Breaks my heart. Glad your house is on top of it, and hooray tree-huggers!!

    1. I know. Ugh. I couldn’t believe they did it either. I’ve always hated sticky traps and now I reeeeeallly despise them!

  2. Ha! I too am the “recycling police.” I often check the trash and put the recyclables where they belong. Not to mention, the 5 cent return on bottles reminds me of a Seinfeld episode… load them up and get TEN cents a bottle in Michigan! Bottle return money kept me in gas all through High School. However, in NY be prepared to wait for an hour behind homeless people hogging the bottle machines.☹️ P.S I’m proud of you for showing that little mouse compassion, people are cruel.
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    1. Ya! 10 cents in Michigan is really considerable! I wish more states had that, honestly! I need to watch this Seinfeld episode…do you remember the season? Thanks for being proud of me! It was a very strange decision to make, I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I’m glad I did!

  3. Wow, I want to congrats you. This post i fun and at the same time educational. That’s my job and I appreciate people like you who appreciate the recycling.

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