Ask Amy: Household needs a recycling czar – The Denver Post

Dear Amy: My wife and I have been married for eight years.

We’ve always shared household chores, which has worked well.

She recently put her career on hold to focus on our two small children, and she is an amazing mother.

My only complaint is her apathy toward recycling. I’m constantly picking recyclables out of the trash and trash out of the recycling bin.

Recyclables that do make it into the correct bin are often contaminated with food waste which, I’ve read, gum up sorting and processing machines.

I’ve gently reminded her of the proper way to handle recyclables, but I am usually met with a “whatever” attitude or dismissive comment about “washing garbage.”

More often, I just quietly pick through the respective bins and put things in the right spot, but I feel like that’s encouraging her to continue not to care.

I realize in the grand scheme of things this is a pretty minor infraction and part of the issue is my meticulousness, but I’m wondering if you have any suggestions on how to persuade her to care more about proper recycling etiquette?

— Wearied Waste Warrior

Dear Wearied: My solution is to suggest that you simply realize that your wife is a nonstarter in this regard, and to stop campaigning and correcting her. I am thereby appointing you the Recycle Czar of your household (your scepter is in the mail). As such, you will take on this job with enthusiasm and without complaint. Furthermore, I’m appointing your two young children to be your official assistants.

Even very young children can enjoy the job of safely sorting (clean) plastics (no sharp metal edges, please). You should delineate a color-coded bin for the recyclables, teach your kids the basics, explain to them why you are doing this, place the clean plastics and paper goods on the floor, and ask them to put these things into the appropriate bin (there are some fun videos on YouTube illustrating the process). Then they can help you take the bin to the curb and watch the big truck take the discarded items away.

If you do this, quite soon your children will start to police your wife, reminding her which bin to use. This might inspire her to get on board.

Dear Amy: Thank you for your wise response to “Frustrated in the Kitchen,” who was so upset that her two stepsons (both addicts) were so often extremely late for her special home-cooked meals.

As a mother who lost a son to addiction, I can tell you that I never stop wishing there was one more birthday or holiday meal with my son.

Establishing a “home” for those suffering with addiction is the kindest act a parent can do.

Yes, they can be late and unreliable and maybe they won’t stay long. But coming home for holiday meals can be a great blessing for troubled souls.

A family group like AA or NA could be of great help to these parents.

At the end of a meeting, they always say, “Keep coming back…” And that’s what parents should always say to their children.

Simpler food could be ordered to save work in the kitchen, and still feel like home-cooked meals. The important part is opening up your home and making the family feel welcome.

I would give anything to see my son at my front door. Frustrated and her husband can work out the kitchen problems. Time with family is so much more important.

— A Grieving Mother

Dear Grieving: Thank you so much for your thoughtful and loving response to a heartbreaking problem. I hope your perspective will help other parents and family members.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (, drug overdose deaths rose from 38,329 in 2010 to 70,237 in 2017; followed by a significant decrease in 2018 to 67,367 deaths.

Addiction takes an incalculable toll on loved ones that statistics can never measure.

The wisdom of “Keep coming back…” works in so many contexts, and I thank you for sharing it.

Dear Amy: Another response to “Frustrated in the Kitchen” whose stepsons were often late (sometimes by hours) for family meals.

She should consider using a Crock-Pot or slow cooker. Then she doesn’t have to think about precisely timing her meal.

— Big Fan

Dear Fan: Many people offered cooking suggestions for this question, which wasn’t really about cooking, but about “Frustrated’s” feeling that she was always on the hook for others’ lateness.

However, I agree with you. A Crock-Pot solves everything.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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