Recycling feels increasingly like a scam

During my burnout year, I stopped composting. In the city where I live, we have to sort garbage, compost, container recycling, and paper recycling, and on top of that, I live in the basement suite with a family of four upstairs, so our bins are basically always full. Compost wasn't helping anyone, least of all me, if I just collected it under my sink for weeks on end.

Over the holidays, I did a lot of online shopping—far more than is normal for me. (Apple must shoulder some of the blame here. I ordered a bunch of watch bands with my employee discount, and they sent every! single! one! in its own shipping box.) And then I bought a new chair and desk from IKEA in January. The pile of cardboard on my living room floor was untenable. At the rate I can dispose of cardboard each week, it would take six months to get rid of it all.

Finally, I asked my dad to take it away. Not only do they have a carport, but their recycling bins are just so much bigger than mine. The cardboard is gone now. I feel like I can breathe again.

So, should I stop recycling? Composting? Sorting every piece of waste that comes through my house? I left for my vacation on a Wednesday, which is pickup day, which means I didn't get a chance to take anything out before I was gone for 11 days. It's still under my sink now.

Usually, I buy small garbage bags. I used to use the plastic bags that come from the grocery store (during the pandemic, they stopped letting us use reusables), but now my city has banned single use plastic bags. I buy these ones that are supposed to be compostable. But a few months ago, I bought a box of big black garbage bags to help me sort donations.

And now I'm collecting garbage under my sink in a big black garbage bag. It's just too easy to throw everything in there. I don't have to think about it. But I still feel bad about it.

"There is no ethical consumption under late stage capitalism." But what about ethical disposal? Donated clothes are being shipped overseas to countries that don't want them. Those compostable bags? Apparently, they're being sorted out and sent to the landfill. And plastic isn't recyclable.

When I read How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis, it was laundry I was drowning in. I have an in-suite washer and dryer, so that part's easy for me. But the sorting, the folding, the hanging was overwhelming. My clothes would move from the dryer to my bed to my floor, then stay there until I wore them again.

But that book taught me a revelatory lesson: you do not need to fold clothes. If you don't care, nobody else will care either. I live alone; they're my clothes. Who cares if they're folded? It worked. Now, I sort into drawers, and that's it. I'm done. The laundry is done.

I need a waste management fairy to come down and tell me that nobody cares. Because I can't make myself do it anymore.

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