Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recycling paper by bicycle (Oct. 7, 2008)

Current mood: accomplished

Call me a purist, but I don't see what's gained by making a special trip in the car to recycle a bag of recyclable paper. Combining the trip with a visit to the local library or picking up my daughter at school, sure. But expending fossil fuel so I can do my bit to save planet, in my mind, runs counter to common sense.

The problem is simple: My wife has the car during the day, and I just don't have access to it all that much anymore. My son uses the bus pass daily to go to school Downtown. I could pay fare, but spending $10 in bus fare to recycle paper also rings hollow. So, I use the bicycle, or I walk. A second set of wheels is not an option at this time. End of discussion.

The recyclable paper was piling up since college began in July. I begged off taking it for weeks, citing the difficulty in carrying it up to the recycling center, either at the library or a church across the street. But it just got to be too much, so I finally bit the bullet and decided to bike it up there. It did take four trips.

It wasn't easy, but I got it done. The repetitiveness offered the chance to perfect the process of carrying a large, bulky item on the bike. I now know what I can carry and what I cannot, what's a balanced load and what is not. I've learned how to shift, how to brake, how to signal, and how to recover from hitting a hole, all with a bulky load.

Practice makes perfect. One more notch in the learning curve. People in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, do this all the time. Someday, probably sooner than later, a lot more of us will do this, too. Even in the suburbs.

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