My wife and I recycle all we can. Most weeks our recycling bin is full. Some weeks it has more in it than the trash can. Between newspapers, cardboard, cans, bottles, plastics and other items, we have developed the habit of recycling where possible. I even save separately the pull tabs from drink cans for those occasional times when some child is collecting them for a school fundraiser. If I’m driving in my car and finish a drink, the container stays in the car until I get home where it can be recycled.
When we have some household item that we no longer want but that is fully functional, we either give it away or place it in plain view near the curb the day before trash pickup. Inevitably someone takes it. Right now there is a large section of our kitchen counter top leaning against the tree at our curb to make room for a new one to be installed soon. Our living and dining rooms are filled with the old kitchen cabinets that will be donated to Habitat for Humanity on Tuesday so someone else can use them for many years to come.
All other items no longer needed get thrown away.
As I think about aspects of my life in terms of recycling or throwing away, the contrast is apparent. For example, my talents and personality don’t radically change from one year or even one decade to the next, but how and where I apply them needs recycling now and then. Perhaps a new job, new neighborhood, new school, new church, new friends or new hobbies are in order to close one chapter and open another. Throwing away the talent would be wrong.
There are certainly times, however, when it’s best to throw away aspects of one’s life and walk away from them. Bad habits, vices, actions that harm others, and maybe – maybe – destructive relationships (although I would rather see those redeemed to something positive).
Before you throw away a part of your life, ask yourself first if there is a way it can be recycled into something useful. Leap year lesson #36 is Know when to recycle and when to throw away.