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Blue Bags: IN or OUT?

The blue bag was one of my favorite all-season accessories. Nope, not the awesome Marc Jacobs – sadly, that one eluded me. I’m talking about blue recycling bags.

As you may or may not know, I LOVE entertaining and my infamous kitchen parties are always well-attended. Lots of parties means lots of fun, but also lots of trash.

reuse your water bottles!On one memorable occasion,  a friend of mine was kind enough to collect some random empties and asked where he should put them. In the midst of my kitchen karaoke performance, I motioned over to the trash bin that was overflowing with cans, bottles, a couple of magnums…damn, this was a great party! He turned back to me and said incredulously, “You don’t recycle?”

I just shot him my “oh puh-leeze” look – I mean really, I was having way too much fun gettin’ my groove on to worry about saving the planet right that minute!

That same night my karma kicked in and I hit it off with a totally cute guy who happened to be my neighbor – did I mention that I LOVE my kitchen parties?? Later that week at his place, I noticed a bunch of empty bottles in his sink and made some witty comment about it rivaling my collection. He said he was just trying to do his part to save the planet since the building did not yet have a recycling program. “Really??” I said, trying to sound convincingly appalled – although I was sincerely surprised, as I just assumed all modern buildings did. Apparently not. So what does he do with his recyclables? HE BRINGS THEM HOME WHEN HE VISITS HIS FAMILY EVERY WEEK. No, I’m not kidding. How freakin cute is that?? I told him I was impressed that he would go to that much effort, but he shrugged it off and said it was simply a personal lifestyle choice – no big deal.

Honestly, I’ve never been more attracted to someone – or more mortified. In that moment, I had flashbacks of all the trash I’d happily hauled out of my apartment in the afterglow of a successful soiree, punctuated by a vision of me in some fabulous party couture perched atop a vile mountain of landfill fending off flocks of buzzards with my Manolos. Not quite the look I was going for…

I’ve been a reformed woman ever since. First of all, I harped on my own building manager to get a recycling program in place. After all, I’m not about to start hauling trash around – no matter how clean – in my cute little car. Oh, and I got us both some blue bags. And ya know what? He was absolutely right. It’s not a big deal at all.

I put a sliding dual trash bin under the sink so one side has trashy trash and the other holds my blue bag stash. I also put a separate bin for recyclables out at my parties. So now when I’m cleaning up the aftermath, I still feel good about how much fun we all had, and even better about how much more made it into the blue bags. Yaaaay!

I know there’s still more I can do to reduce the party carnage and I’m working on it. Baby steps…

PS – Starting in 2009, the Blue Bag Program in Chicago is being replaced by the Blue Cart Program. Although this is even easier, I still use my leftover blue bags at my parties . I just like the symbolism and all things retro – plus it helps my alcoholic party-goers to keep the bins straight! There are also some cities who are still using the blue bags effectively so check your local websites to find out what your city is doing.

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