Three Days of the Mother-In-Law


This is a cautionary tale for all my “green” friends. I have spent years getting my family on board with recycling cans, bottles, plastics, paper and cardboard. Beware my friends, for all my efforts were undone in just three days.

In my home I shall refer to it as the Three Days of the Mother-In-Law.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my wife’s mother. We have always gotten along and I genuinely enjoy spending time with her. But, she’s done me wrong this time.

I recycle. In fact, I’m the only one in my household who sees the value in it. I’ve spent years encouraging my family to recycle. I’ve actually labeled all the recyclables in the kitchen a couple of times to remind my wife and children. I’ve texted them pictures of water bottles in the trash to show them the missed opportunity to help the environment.

I’m no recycling nazi like my sister-in-law, but I do want it done. I’m not the greenest guy in the world, i don’t believe in global warming no matter how many pictures of stranded polar bears you show me, i just don’t buy it. But reusing goods that would otherwise end up in a landfill just makes sense.

I make it as easy as humanly possible. Just put the paper, bottles, etc. on the counter.I’ll wash them out and put them in the bin and every other Wednesday, I’ll drag the bin out to the street  That’s it. Easy as pie.

They were really doing well. We had a nice system. It had gotten to the point where we did so much recycling that we only had to empty the kitchen trash about three times a week.

Then Mom arrived.

We all have our quirks and one of Mom’s is a total lack of tolerance for clutter. Put a coffee cup down and leave the room for three-tenths of a second and, whoosh, it’s in the dishwasher.  She knows how we do the recycling. We’ve talked about it. She thinks the whole thing is silly and that cuts her tolerance for empty cans and bottles down to zero.

In the three days she was here, I was emptying the trash twice a day. That should have been my first clue that something was amiss. I attributed it to her belief that paper plates are better in all circumstances than regular plates. I honestly thinks she believes it’s cheaper to use paper than run the dishwasher. Needless to say, we had the paper plate manufacturers working overtime.

The clincher was the bag I took out to the trash the day she left.

“Clink, clink, rattle, clink.”

I ripped open the bag and, lo and behold, about a dozen cans and bottles right there in the bottom of the trash. She must have been sneaking them in the whole time she was visiting.  And worst of all, my family knew it and have subsequently been trashing recyclables with gleeful abandon.

Years of work down the drain in just 72 hours. Now, I’ll have to retrain my family again.

Where’s my label-maker?

One Response to “Three Days of the Mother-In-Law”

  1. 1 Anne

    that was very funny.. sometimes I think its a losing battle. I am forever pulling something out of the trash for the recycling.

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