As I write this I am sitting at Sea-Tac airport. I want to catch some sleep—so I’ve decided to climb into a plane’s cargo hold. It’s apparently the thing to do when you need a quick nap. Once you awaken, just bang on the wall and someone will turn the plane around and deliver you right back to the airport. Try it. It’s trending.
In the terminal, it’s hard not to notice the recycling bins everywhere. Other major U.S. airports are considered tops for on-time flights, reliable baggage handling and modern efficiency. Sea-Tac is considered the tops in trash—and the collecting of it.
The fact is arriving travelers at Sea-Tac are simply getting a preview of what’s waiting for them in the town itself. Mandatory composting rules took effect here back in January—and life as it was once known changed forever.
Experts say that understanding all the new rules is easy as pie. Pie may or may not be compostable—but pie pans are. Certain pies should simply be tossed into the garbage. Like the one I made for the neighborhood Super Bowl party.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that understanding all the new composting rules is as easy as quantum physics. But Seattle residents aren’t required to understand quantum physics—except for quantum physicists. Composting is just something everyone’s supposed to do—including quantum physicists, who seem busy enough already.
No one is quite sure when the practice of recycling began. It may go back to caveman times when guys like Og recycled jokes that Trog had told around the fire the night before.
Of course in ancient times composting wasn’t something people did. It was what they had for dinner.
But today in Seattle, we’ve got until just the end of July to get compliant. If residential composting violators are discovered after that, they will immediately be sent to prison without the possibility of parole.
I hope the preceding sentence got your attention. It is baloney, of course—but I thought it looked pretty impressive in print.
However—come July—whopping fines of one dollar will be added to your utility bill if more than ten percent of items in your garbage have been misplaced. Like you, I’m wondering how and who will make that determination:
WASTE MANAGEMENT GUY #1: “Hey, Carl? You done sorting through these people’s can?”
GUY #2: “Yea. I’ve done it twice, but I’m only coming up with nine percent. Wait! I just found a pie tin! Fine ‘em!”
Readers have sent me some questions regarding recycling and composting. I am not an expert, but I play one in this newspaper.
Q: Can I dump Styrofoam peanuts into my recycling cart? —Trudy in White Center
A: You sure can, Trudy—if you want a one dollar fine (50 dollars for businesses and apartment complexes). However, there are a few places that will recycle the peanuts for free—eventually making them into Styrofoam peanut butter.
Q: What’s that thing on your lip? You should see a doctor about it.—Aaron in Des Moines
A: Never mind that. Do you have a question about recycling or composting?
Q: No, just the lip thing.
A: Let’s move on to the next question.
Q: I understand that shredded paper is recyclable. What about shredded wheat?—Susan in Burien
A: Good question, Susan. And thanks for not mentioning the thing on my lip. Shredded paper is recyclable because it can be turned back into new paper. Shredded wheat cannot currently be turned into new wheat. Incidentally, shredded paper soaked in milk and sliced bananas is not recyclable.
Q: What about CD cases? Can they be recycled? —Yasar in Redondo Beach
A: No, they go into the garbage. The Greatest Hits of Michael Bolton is already recycled material.
Q: What if I refuse to pay my one-dollar fine? —Gene in West Seattle
A: You will immediately be sent to prison without the possibility of parole. (Still impressive in print).
Time for one final question:
Q: I think that thing on your lip could be a herpes. —Dr. Leonard in Normandy Park
A: Could you put that in the form of a question, doctor?
Q: Sure. I think that thing on your lip could be a herpes?
A: What can I do for it?
Q: Could you put that in the form of an answer?