Archives for posts with tag: recycling

by Lynn White

It’s easy for me.
Even though I’ve planned it
and psyched myself up,
when I walk into the shop
and see rail upon rail of stuff
it overwhelms me,
I can’t be bothered to look,
can’t be bothered
to sort through it all.

It takes only seconds for me to realise
that my jacket,
or jeans,
or coat,
or shirt
are good for a few more years.

It’s harder for those who shop as a hobby,
who get a buzz like a shot of tequila
from the pleasure of buying new,
especially when it’s so cheap,
but we’re drowning in it
all the stuff.
It’s squeezing us out of our homes,
filling up our land
stifling our oceans,
burning up our planet
with it’s nonstop production
and speedy conversion to rubbish.

It’s those little things
and some people just don’t buy it!

PAINTING: Shirts by Oleksandr Hnylyzkyj (2002).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think that consumerism is the elephant in the room. So many of the things we do as individuals, though always valuable—especially when we discuss them—nevertheless have a very small impact. But not buying into the consumerist ethic can have a really large impact—especially if we talk about it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Gyroscope Review, and So It Goes. Visit her at and on Facebook.

by Anita Haas

“Why don’t you throw all that junk away!” They’d demand
as they watched Eve braid grocery bags
into mats, or stack empty yogurt containers
to be used one day as, as, … dessert bowls for picnics?

“Splurge a little! Enjoy life!” They would comment
critically on her limited water-use. No
luxurious baths, no long, hot showers. Dishes
rinsed, soaped and rinsed again. Lights
off after exiting a room. Clothes and
furniture second-hand, or was it third? Worn socks
mended, broken objects upcycled for
other uses.

“Away?” she puzzled, knowing they would never comprehend
it was a not a question of money.
“Yes. Away. Gone.”
Ah, but away does not mean gone, Eve knew. It means, not here, not
my problem anymore. Even throwing out was more
honest. It suggested “not in my home.”

It had been stressful before recycling; piles
of used paper rising in corners after filling
every white space. She devised
uses for them; cut
them into squares, glued
them on one side to make notepads, blank side up.

Empty bottles
fraternized above the kitchen cabinets;
her second cousin’s neighbor’s colleague made
elderberry wine and could
use them. The grocer’s son
collected stamps, so Eve soaked
the tiny squares off envelopes and saved them
for the boy.

“Now, you just go and throw all that silly stuff
away.” They would cajole, clearly suspecting
a budding case of Diogenes.

“Away?” Eve asked, “You mean …
buried?” She had grown up next to what they called a
landfill site. Enjoyed time off school because of the
methane gas scare. It was a place where you
put things you didn’t want and you
covered them up with Earth and then they were
gone. Like burying your tooth
under the skin of your knee. Festering infections.

“Away?” she repeated, “Or do you mean …
tossed in the ocean?” Drowned? Earth swallowing
what had been mined
from her own guts.
“Or burned?” Forest lungs choking on black soot
from their own fires.
Nothing is ever gone, Eve knew. It comes back.
And haunts us.

But now, recycling containers reside
on every street, each one hungry
for its unique diet. She fills
their breakfast bag, fitting
jars and cans inside each other, tucking
rolled newsprint around them, sliding
folded milk cartons along the sides. Everything
spotless and dry.

The tinkle of white glass shattering
reaches her as she approaches
the containers. Green glass breaks at a lower
pitch, like an adolescent boy’s cry, cracking
in places. Brown glass snaps
and pops, if it breaks at all.

Although she knows she’s not doing
nearly enough, Eve thinks she hears
a hoarse whisper. She leans toward the container
and listens,

“Thank you.”

PAINTING: Study of a Child Carrying Bottles in a Landscape by Walter Osborne (1859-1903).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always tried to look for the usefulness in things, no matter how out-of-fashion, obsolete, worn, or broken. That’s why I adore thrift shops and applaud recycling.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently-abled Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film and flamenco (with her husband, Carlos Aguilar), two novelettes, a short story collection, as well as articles, poems, and fiction in both English and Spanish. Her most recent work is the bilingual picture book, Chato, the Puppy-Cat/Chato, el Perri-Gato, which she has written, translated, and illustrated, with sales donated to local animal shelters.

by Erina Booker

“Accomplish the great task
by a series of small acts.”
Tao Te Ching, 63

I’ve found a prized space
in my new apartment block
it’s called the Rubbish Room,
bins in line along the walls
varied coloured lids for diverse junk
red: biodegradables
blue: cardboard and paper
yellow: glass, plastic, foil, and cans

garbage trucks measure
reject bins with mixed contents
accept only those correctly loaded

I winnow garbage like chaff from grain
separate plastic from cardboard tissue boxes
staples from documents
paper labels from cans

a dance of the bins begins
I turn and lift, dip from one to the other
criss-cross the room
clang percussive lids
sort mistakes so all will be accepted
by the maw of haulage

I spin this straw to gold
protect respect
this piece of
precious planet Earth.

©Erina Booker

PAINTING: Grandmother’s Country by Michelle Possum Nungurrayi.

Rubbish Room

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As far back as I remember, I have experienced  a deep connection with, and responsibility to, the natural world. Many incidents have become the “touchstones” of my life. Though I had wanted to write about my part in healing the natural world, I was drawn to the new experience of having, in my recent, downsized home,  a designated room for garbage, sorted into recycling bins. From childhood, over six decades ago, I was taught to dispose of rubbish into designated places, never to throw rubbish from car windows, and not litter the environment. Now, the disposal of rubbish has even greater significance. This led me to write a poem on this subject.

Erina for Silver Birch 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erina Booker is a poet based on Sydney, Australia. Her life revolves around poetry, from publishing books and contributing to journals, to recitals at public events and presentations at seminars. She actively supports poetry in her local community. Erina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Composition as well as a Graduate Degree in Counseling. She knows the value of words and the pauses between them.

dayou lu beautiful rhythm
Wash Me in Intention
by Jaya Avendel

Mosaiced at the banks with
Pink, blue, and yellow plastics
Water chokes between the drowning
Colors, cuts into the earth and
Sinks ice into skin.

Ask for paper
If the cloth on your flesh
Cannot warp into a bag.

Ask for paper
If your golden locks cannot
Braid into a basket.

Press glass to your cheek
Scatter rocks dipped in sugar syrup
For the bees; preserve in honey and wax
Dreams and moments of sweet intention.

PAINTING: Beautiful rhythm in the lotus pond by Dayou Lu (2019).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My sisters visited the James River a few months ago and told me the water was thick, muddy-yellow, clogged with plastic bags and trash. Plastic waste is one of the biggest threats to marine life. Plastics also impede our ability to maintain a healthy, clean water supply on earth due to short life, increased use, and poor waste disposal. It is not much but asking for paper bags at the shops and using reusable shopping bags is one of the many small things my family and I are able to do to help reduce plastic waste in the want of a cleaner future.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jaya Avendel is a micro poetess and word witch from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, passionate about life where it intersects with writing and the dreamscapes lost in between. With writing published at Green Ink Poetry, Lamplit Underground, Feral Magazine, and The Anthropocene Hymnal Anthology, she writes at and tweets as @AvendelJaya.

v lake 1
My Grande Dame
by Ranjith Sivaraman

I never felt my legs since six,
And ever loved my lake since then
My boat was my cradle
And my lake was my Grande Dame.

I remember those greener days,
When my lake was pure
And my oar was free
from the floating bottles.

I never felt my legs since six
And ever loved my lake since then.
My boat became my last hope
And bottles became my close friends.

I saved them from my lake
And rowed them to shore
And they told me their story,
Poor fellows were born to be abandoned.

PHOTO: Vembanad Lake by Simianwolverine (2013).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is dedicated to a poor old man, paralyzed below his knees, who collects plastic waste from the Vembanad Lake and other streams of Kumarakom, in Kerala, India. Every day, early in the morning, he hires a small country boat and ventures out to collect plastic, maneuvering using a stick or his oar. He mainly collects plastic bottles that were dumped in the waters. Read about him here.

PHOTO: NS Rajappan, who cleans Vembanad Lake each day to make a living and save the environment. Photo by Nandu KS.

Sivaraman copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ranjith Sivaraman is an upcoming poet from Kerala, a beautiful state in India. His poems merge nature imagery, human emotions, and human psychology. Sivaraman’s poems in English have been published in international literature magazines and journals from various locations, including Alberta, Budapest, Essex, London, New York, Indiana, Lisbon, Colorado, California, New Jersey, Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, Kerala, Texas, Chennai, and Toronto. He was a finalist in the The Voice of Peace anthology competition 2021, organized by the League of Poets. Visit him at

by Yvette Viets Flaten

During all the years of our marriage
we have recycled: All newspapers,
glass, cans, and compost. All leaves,
twigs, garden matter; mulched, chopped,
dug in, turned over.

How, now, after all these years,
do we imagine that mountain of print,
the deafening clatter of steel and tin
cascading down the decades? The glass
bottles that floated no missives, except
that of our silent, committed recycling?

A pile as big as El Capitan, or Gibraltar,
perhaps? An open pit mine’s worth of
metal, a glass works’ annual output?
We wonder at our mass, and the mass
of all the others, for decades.

Almost fifty years of marriage. Almost
fifty years of recycling. One professed in
a public ceremony; the other a much quieter
solitary confession, a tiny yet momentous
decision, each made in a single instant, taken
one can, one peel, one plastic bag, at a time.

PAINTING: El Capitan, Yosemite (Sentinel Rock) by Hermann Ottomar Herzog (1876).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A chance conversation on our recent anniversary brought back a flood of memories about our first apartment, in early days of recycling. My husband’s mother, a science teacher, had scouted out the first local refuse company to accept household newsprint and metal cans. We immediately followed her lead and have recycled for 47 years. Once we had a garden, my husband built two compost corrals. Recycling is a way of life for us.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yvette Viets Flaten was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in an Air Force family, living in Nevada, North Dakota, and Washington state as well as France, England, and Spain.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish (1974) and a Master of Arts in History (1982) from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She writes both fiction and poetry and her award-winning poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including the Wisconsin Academy Review, Rag Mag, Midwest Review, Free Verse, Ariel Anthology, and Red Cedar Review. In May 2020, she was interviewed by Garrison Keillor as part of his Pandemic Poetry Contest. Yvette’s poem “Riding It Out” was one of 10 winners. Find her interview with Garrison Keillor here. More recently, Yvette had two poems accepted in anthologies honoring the 50th anniversary of the creation of Apostle Island National Lakeshore—“Trail” in A is for Apostle Islands, and “Jenga” in Island Intersections. 

If I Were Woke, I’d be Naked and Starving
by Leah Mueller

My cast-off cans
and bottles rest

in corners of my kitchen
and bathroom, encased
in sturdy plastic bins.

Are the bins themselves
recyclable? I pretend
it doesn’t matter,

since I will always own
those bins. I pretend
to understand how my
waste will be transformed

from empty garbanzo cans
into glittering icons
of 21st century
eco-chic architecture,

and won’t be shipped
across oceans in barges:
belching exhaust
and discharging sewage

as they make their way
to distant countries, who
no longer want our garbage.

I create a trail of refuse,
just by existing. If I
move my weight around,
I use more resources.

Better to sit
absolutely still,
naked, but that
would get me arrested.

Guess I’ll pretend
I’m saving the
goddamned planet
by bringing my bills
and grocery receipts
and wine bottles to
the local recycling plant,

everything safely tucked
in the back of my
six-year-old Camry.

After I destroy
all evidence of my
shameful need to consume,

I’ll drive away
in a cloud of exhaust,
and pretend I never owned

PAINTING: Evian Bottles by Janet Fish (1976).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem out of frustration, but of course it came out funny. Today, as I visited the local recycling plant, I lamented the amount of resources we consume while trying to use fewer. I have been told that our community’s reusable waste is shipped to Tucson, but no one really knows what happens to it there. I don’t like the idea of my cast-off debris moldering in a landfill somewhere, so I continue to recycle.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona.  She is the author of nine prose and poetry books, published by numerous small presses. Her latest chapbook, Land of Eternal Thirst (Dumpster Fire Press) was released in 2021.  Leah’s work appears in Rattle, Midway Journal, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and elsewhere. Visit her at

Waiters Encourage Us, and Squirrels
by Jonathan Yungkans

scamper, hoarding orbs of broomcorn and sawtoothing sunflower seeds, shell
and greed much as nutrition. Is it really as unpretentious as our
scattered, food-stained napkins and latte-scented paper cups rolled onto

random recollections, washed with rainwater toward a kaleidoscope
plastic ocean, lethargic as pond scum in blockage. It’s like something
our parents may have told us, loud and long—“Clean up your room!” I bulldozed

what must’ve been a garbage yard’s worth of mess in the nether regions
deep underneath my bed so my mom would let me shop for a plastic
model car, as if the tide were calling me even then. Didn’t know

I was being so adult and millennial, a generation
or two before bright red, sky and navy blues and clear as no bell I
could imagine Glad Wrap to sound—all glittery and suffocating,

and all of it putting a toxic spin on the name Pacific, gulls
and whales stuffed tight with it. I’m thinking of the squirrels again, picking up
and devouring what feels like hours, as if anyone could taste

time. let alone starve from the lack of it. As if we could all be cooks
and eat our mistakes. Or John-Boy Walton on Night Gallery, clearing
away a rich-man’s feast like a good waiter, stealing every crumb home—

to find the meal laid before his deceased father, having to consume
all the moral refuge wrapped in spiced meats, bread, cakes—a generation
of trash like the stuff gone to sea, field and concrete. Maybe it’s the squirrels

and my obsessive neighbor who have the right idea. Collecting crimes
and missed demeanors like so many seeds. And seeds they are—weeds or vines
of aluminum, plastic, desiccated tree—or maybe bread crumbs

snowflaked onto white linen, removed with a whisk of a metal tool.

PAINTING: Magenta Squirrel by Robert Zakanitch (2004).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I leave seed in my yard for the birds and the neighborhood squirrels arrive for more than their fair share—more a service than a nuisance, since it leaves less for rodents to find after dark. When I read the line in John Ashbery’s poem “Musica Reservata” which became the title here, I remembered these daily antics. The neighbor mentioned in the poem suffers twofold—from obsessive-compulsive disorder and from caring so much about the trash people leave, which, living across the street from a college campus, is frequently considerable. My heart goes out to him. At the same time, I also think, more power to him. I should do so more myself.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer who was recently featured in The International Literary Quarterly‘s online anthology of California poets. His work has appeared in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Panoply, Synkroniciti and a number of other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published by Tebor Bach in 2021.

  A Sestina for the Well-Being of Mother Earth
  by Jeannie E. Roberts
roberts 2
PHOTO:  Rush River, a 49.8-mile-long tributary of the Mississippi River in western Wisconsin. Photo by Aaron Gunnar.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My dad played a pivotal role in my upbringing; he introduced me to the wonders and the importance of the outdoor environment. He registered our home, the land near the Rush River, called Stonehammer*, under the state’s tree conservation program. Here, we planted hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of white pine and other coniferous trees. I recall our long hikes along the river, through the meadow, forest, and woodlands removing other people’s trash; as we’d wander the land, he’d identify the various trees, plants, and wildflowers. Though the Rush River property was sold years ago (in fact, its new owner recently bulldozed both the house and the garage), I’ll remember it fondly, though sadly, too, for it was the last place I saw my dad in this corporeal life. His knowledge of botany was impressive and it stuck with me. When I identify a tree, plant, or wildflower and when I retrieve roadside refuse, I can thank my dad. My sestina honors my beloved father, Donald E. Roberts, our natural world, and the beautiful fragility of Mother Earth.

*Stonehammer refers to the name of the Rush River property with rock cliff, near the unincorporated town of Martell, in Pierce County, Wisconsin, USA.

PHOTO:  The Rush River with rock cliff (Stonehammer) by Jeannie E. Roberts.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children’s books. Her newest collection, As If Labyrinth—Pandemic Inspired Poems, was released by Kelsay Books in April 2021. She’s a nature enthusiast, Best of the Net award nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs. For more, please visit: Jeannie E. Roberts | Poets & Writers (

Ode to a wine-lover’s friend
by JC Sulzenko

Not that I’m a drunk or that we’re drunks.
But, after five months in isolation,
ten boxes of empties languish
underneath the basement steps.
Nowhere safe we can recycle them.

Barolos list and lean on Rosés
with the occasional Pinot Gris
and a magnum or three, attesting to
many, many, long, long evenings with
only each other to face and entertain.

What to do with the evidence?
An answer walks up our driveway.
His name is David. He’s thirty-seven, wears
a baseball cap and an unmasked, crooked
smile. He speaks few words with a slur.

David collects empties from around
the county during COVID-days.
He turns them in, donates what he earns
to charities he likes the best.
This gives him purpose, his mother explains.

Two-by-two, David hoists our crates into the van.
He refuses offers of help, raises his hat with joy
when he’s done. Then tilts toward me, runs fingers
through his new brushcut, mumbles what he heard
the barber say, You’re a handsome boy! Indeed.

PHOTO: Wine bottles on stairs by Pixabay, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I focused this poem on my first meeting with David, although his backstory also merits further reflection. When I called to book his visit, his mother explained he had been living in a group home when the pandemic hit. When she was told she would have to stop seeing him given the restrictions, she brought him home to live with her and with his stepfather. David’s success at recycling has led to stories in local media, and demand has overwhelmed their capacity. “We are retired, after all!” she laughs. Now they are recruiting other families to come on board.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JC Sulzenko’s poems appeared on Arc’s Poem of the Year shortlist, and have been featured in Vallum, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Oratorealis, Naugatuck River Review, and online — either under her name or as A. Garnett Weiss. The Light Ekphrastic and Silver Birch Press have published her work. In 2019, she won the Wind and Water Writing Contest and WrEN Award (Children’s Poetry), and judged poetry for the National Capital Writing Contest. In 2018, Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) as well as the Poet’s Pathway and County CollAboRaTive projects featured her writing. Point Petre Publishing released her South Shore Suite…POEMS in 2017. Her centos took top honours in The Bannister Anthology (2016, 2013). She has presented workshops for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Griffin Trio, MASC, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa Public Library, and a number of Alzheimer societies, among others. She has published six books for children and co-authored the chapbooks Slant of Light and Breathing Mutable Air with fellow Canadian Carol A. Stephen. She currently curates the Glebe Report’s Poetry Quarter, plus serves as a selector for Visit her at