In one fluid motion, I opened the car door, slipped inside and slid my backpack from my right shoulder to the passenger seat. A quick check in the rearview mirror confirmed that there were no remaining bits of breakfast wedged between my teeth. Satisfied that I looked presentable enough to face another day of teaching seventh grade, I pressed the button for the garage door and prepared to begin my commute.
The door slowly lifted to reveal a sky filled with gray clouds left behind by the storms from the night before and the sort of weak, watery light that calls to mind dimly-lit cubicle farms. Blergh, I thought to myself as I put my car in reverse and began to slowly back out into the decidedly dreary day. At least I'll be inside all day.
And then, I saw it.
Our recycling bin.
On its side. Red lid flapping in the violent wind like a tongue hanging out of a dog's mouth, its contents spilling out into the deserted street.
As I watched in horror, one of the dozens of empty cans of sparkling water that I consume each week rocketed away, clunking merrily against the pavement like it was having the time of its life. A few squashed Amazon boxes lifted gracefully in the air, aloft for just a moment, until they settled down momentarily on our neighbor's lawn, waiting to be displaced by the next gust of wind. Handfuls of colorful junk mail fliers whipped around in a frenzy, broken butterfly wings clinging to tree trunks, mailbox posts and particularly velcro-y blades of grass.
I parked my car, climbed out and stood next to it for a moment, watching the scene in front of me. The wind whipped my hair across my face. The subdivision was still asleep, so I felt no shame as I let a string of colorful words fly.
My need to rage satisfied, I was left with the feeling of defeat that comes with realizing that all there is left to do is clean up the mess. I sighed, surveying the scene in front of me. Instead of saving the planet, my attempts at being eco-conscious had turned into littering. Exactly the opposite of what I was going for.
As I began to chase the first piece of cardboard down the street, I thought to myself, Who knew that going green could make you go insane?