Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 02.17.15
Stanstead, Quebec


A reading from the Book of Recycling

And perched upon their blue bins in the field, the people did cry out, "O, Master, show us the true path of recycling. Tell us what is pleasing in your sight and what must be cast into the abyss of municipal landfill. And the rolling out of the wheely bins, we beseech you, be it the second Friday of the month or the third? We can never remember."

The Master rose before them, stretching heavenward his palms enrobed in safety gloves that protecteth the fingers, even unto the pinkie. And he said:

"Fear not the recycling, for the recycling is good. Question not the recycling, for the recycling is holy. Shun not the recycling, for the neighbours will make their snide remarks one to the other."

And the people replied unto him, "Hold up, Master. For, verily, on the sanctity of the recycling, we are sold. Lo, it is many seasons since we looked upon our municipal tax bill and did grumble. That the recycling truck does not merely drive to the dump, in this our faith is mighty. But the sorting of the products: forgive us, Master, for we know not what we do."

The Master did smile with condescension upon them then and said:

"Bring unto the blue bin your paper products, your cardboards corrugated and non, your newspapers and envelopes, yea, even with the little plastic windows, for they are blessed. But produce not the papers of tissue, spawn of Kleenex and Scott, for they are flimsy and kind of gross. Nor shall you bring forth the padded envelope, for the paper may not be sundered from the bubble wrap, though popping it be a hoot.

"Your milk cartons you may recycle, even though they are lined with wax, for that is just the way it is, don't ask.

"Suffer the little jars and tins to come unto the sorting centre, yea, even the lids, though they be tiny and potentially pointy.

"The Styrofoam you may not recycle, as I have told you over and over. No matter how many times you try, it's just not going to happen."

And then the people did plead, "But the plastic, Master, what of the plastic?"

The Master did then produce from somewhere on his person, they knew not where, a yogurt tub. And he did ask them, "What is this I hold before me?"

"It is a yogurt tub, Master," they cried.

"Is it rinsed and void of all particles that would attract the fly, the mould, the creepy-crawly things?"

"It is, yes, Master. It is truly spic and span. Let us recycle it, Master. Let us recycle it good!"

"But is this not a half-eaten sausage in my other hand?" he spoke, raising aloft the sausage, produced again from whence they knew not.

"Verily, it is a sausage, O Master. Shall we eat of it, all of us, as a miracle of the loaves and sausage, overlooking the fact you keep cured meats within your overcoat?"

With this, the Master curtsied, as in the ways of his forebears, and said, "Whenever there is food and the leaving over thereof, and the yogurt tub that is clean, even should there be a whole cupboard under the sink brimming with yogurt tubs of yore, you shall bring the yogurt tub and the food together, and into the fridge for later."

And the people did scratch their heads. "But, Master, when do we recycle the yogurt tub?"

He replied, "When the camel crosses the desert on stilts and those who eat in restaurants put away their smart phones, then shall you purge the overflowing tubs under the sink and into the recycling, like, twice a year, for sure."

"But what of the little yogurt cups, Master," they pleaded, "The individual servings that, when empty, are good for nothing, may we recycle these anon?

And the Master did cast his yogurt tub and sausage upon the ground in anger, saying, "Never shall you recycle the little yogurt cup, for its plastic is loathsome in my sight."

The people did quake with fear and remained confused, saying, "But the grocery bag, though delicate as the nightingale's teardrop, we may recycle. What gives?"

The Master did thus chill out and said, "As the wheat is separated from the chaff, so too are some services not available in your area."

So it is written, somewhere on your municipal website. Amen.