Since the holidays, countless piles of boxes have surely been left destitute up and down Denver's streets. I know this because that was the case by my house last and all down my street last week. Heap after heap of cardboard was ignored by the recycling truck rumbling past, left to be strewn by the wind across lawns and into traffic -- and all because said cardboard had the audacity to be too large or cumbersome to fit into the purple recycling bins distributed by the city.
I should have seen this coming. My relationship with Denver Recycles (the nuts and bolts of which can be read about in the Westword story "The Hunt for Green") has been rocky ever since the time I accidentally left my recycling bin facing in the wrong direction on pick-up day. For that infraction, the recycling worker wrote on the top of my bin in mega-sized, grease-pencil letters that I needed to "READ THE INSTRUCTIONS" -- thereby suggesting to all my neighbors that I was illiterate, dyslexic or both.
But I was willing to let bygones be bygones. "Hell, it's the holidays," I thought last week as I propped against the curb my load of extra-large boxes, all neatly folded and consolidated into one tidy, easy-to-chuck-into-the-recycling-truck package. "Surely the good folks behind the wheel will be touched that my neighbors and I are so gung-ho about recycling that they'll take this extra stuff." And anyway, I reasoned, if these guys had the time and inclination to get out of the truck and pen me nasty notes on my recycling bin, surely they won't have a problem dealing with a few extra boxes.
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Wrong. There were my boxes that night, though half had been scattered down the street during the windy day. Grumbling to myself, I collected the refuse and, since it was still too large to fit in my now-empty recycling bin, trundled it over to the back-alley dumpster and heaved it in. Yes, Denver's landfill is now just a little bit bigger and several more trees have died in vain -- but don't come complaining to me. Talk to my recycling guy. -- Joel Warner