Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Not to Recycle

In the process of creating the Man Lounge this weekend, I unearthed a number of old items, one of which was my old Creative Zen Jukebox mp3 player. Not sure why I was keeping this thing around, but there it was, thick as a brick and half as sexy. Being the green minded fellow that I am, rather than chucking it in the garbage with all of my other crap (including, but not limited to a yo-yo, a harmonica and two cigar cutters), I figured I'd recycle the thing. I have no idea just what is in a MP3 player that makes it any worse for the environment than all of other crap we consume day to day that can't be recycled, but I also don't know how to put a fucking watch on, so clearly I'm not in a position to judge.

So, with my environmental ignorance in mind, I decided to make use of Best Buy's chain-wide recycling program and send my MP3 player back to the Earth, or at least to some third world company where they'll no doubt sell it as top of the line technology. My brief, although not brief enough trip to the joy that is the Best Buy recycling program has allowed me to come up with a brief tutorial on how not to recycle electronics. Read it. Live it. Love it.

Signs People
Upon walking into the Best Buy, there is absolutely nothing there telling you a) where the recycling drop-off is or b) that they even have one. The only reason I knew that they had a program is because I researched it online and found the information there. Oh sure you can drop off used cell phones, ink cartridges and rechargeable batteries once you walk into the store, but for anything other than that, you'll be wandering aimlessly, doomed to perish of thirst amongst the vacuum cleaners before you find where you should go. I ended up asking the guy right at the door, thus preventing my untimely demise. When is a demise timely? Has anyone ever died and other said "well, he was about due for it"? These are the things that keep me awake at night. Moving on.

Don't Make People Wait In Line
The average person will do only that which is absolutely necessary to live their daily lives. Most people wouldn't get dressed in the morning if they didn't have to. I have seen people walking around in pajamas at three in the afternoon, a clear sign that they are doing the bare minimum needed to be considered clothed. Recycling something which can be very easily thrown away is asking a lot to people, especially considering that without the benefit of some seriously jacked up technology, those same people will be long dead before their non-recycling ways catches up with them. At Best Buy, or at least this Best Buy, if you are recycling something, you have to wait in line at the Customer Service Counter. Yes, that's right, if you're trying to do the right thing, ecologically speaking, you have to wait with all of the people looking to cheat the store out of a five dollar pair of headphones.

In this case, there were two people in front of me, one of which appeared to be on drugs. This woman could not stand still. She'd adjust her headphones, then pick her nose, then play with the cattle mover stand, then look at me, then look at the return policy sign, then look at me, then pick her nose, then play with the pole, then look at me. Not wanting to be shot by a junkie as I waited in line to recycle a five year old MP3 player, I stood firmly rooted to the spot, staring straight ahead as if a drill sergeant were screaming at me and threatening to stab me with a bayonet and leave me to the swamp critters. Either this woman was completely hopped up on something or she was looking to pull off the mother of all Best Buy swindles. Eventually she calmed the fuck down, moved forward and returned whatever she decided she didn't need any more so that she had more money for crank.

Remember Why You're Recycling
Once I got to the counter, and presented my item for recycling, the woman, rather child as she was all of about 12, picked it up and said "What is this?" Now, the thing says right on it "MP3 Player" but I'm assuming that her mind couldn't reconcile the fact that an MP3 player could be more than six ounces and not made by Apple. I couldn't have gotten a more befuddled look if I brought in an 8-track player as her hipster, douchebag boyfriend probably has an 8-track player so that he can be cool and retro.

I told her what it was and she then proceeded to start scanning unseen barcodes. Then, inexplicably, she handed me a receipt. A receipt! A receipt for recycling! Do you know what the receipt said? It said "Recycling receipt - $0.00" followed by a yard of information on Best Buy's return policy and how I can take a survey and possibly win a gift card. This receipt was as useless a piece of paper as I've ever seen. There was absolutely no information on it that I could use to get back my MP3 player should I change my mind and decide to fuck over the environment. In fact, there was nothing on the receipt to even indicate what I had brought in for recyling in the first place. All it stated was that at some point today, I brought in something to be recycled, and that no money changed hands as a result of it.

Seriously people, why the fuck would I need a receipt for this? What possible reason could there be for me to have a receipt other than the fact that Best Buy secretly hates the fact that they have to now recycle electronics and has decided to retaliate by killing trees and polluting our fair planet with register tape ink. I can't think of any other reason. At the very least, ask if the person wants a receipt before you hand them the stupid thing. Then they could make the decision to continue defiling the land for their own stupid need to obsessively keep a record of every meaningless transaction they participate in. I am not one of those people. The receipt was wasted on me.

Here's how you run a recycling program. You put a bin out in the middle of the floor that says "Recycle Used Electronics Here". You then put up a sign saying that if people put in things like hard drives with personal information on it, Best Buy reserves the right to steal your identity and sell your children. On a related note, why is it that they won't let you recycle hard drives because of personal information concerns, but you can drop off a cell phone with not only your personal information but the phone numbers of every person you know? Chew on that one for a while. If you want to get really crazy you can have someone manning the bin that tells people that their tv is too large to recycle, although realistically, anyone who can find the strength to pick up the 800 lb tube tv from 1973 probably isn't going to be hauling it into the Best Buy any time soon. I have a 36 inch Toshiba in the bedroom that is so heavy, we'll never replace it. If it dies, I'll buy a flat panel tv and just rest it on top of the broken one. I'll be dead and in the ground before that fucking TV makes it outside of the house.

From now on, I think I'm going to save myself the hassle and just follow my own, foolproof recycling process. It goes a little something like this:

Step 1: Bring your stuff out to your lawn.
Step 2: Print out a sign that reads "$20".
Step 3: Affix sign to stuff.
Step 4: Go to bed.

By morning it will all be stolen and now be somebody else's problem. Now that's what I call recycling!

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