When do you say something?

January 17th, 2008


I noticed several sad things on the way to my recycling drop-off Saturday. In case you don’t know, I live in an apartment, and my city won’t pick up recycling at larger apartments. So, I drive it down the road a bit.

My husband went along and drove. We passed by our apartment dumpster, which is usually overflowing on the weekends. A young couple was placing piles of cardboard boxes out by the dumpster.

Cardboard is highly recyclable, and it’s really a shame to waste it. I wanted to offer to take it to recycling for them, but how would that be received? Plus, my husband, who was driving, thought it better not to intrude.

So, we pass by. Then, at the recycling drop-off, another young couple is joyfully tossing plastic bottles with the lids still on them into the receptacle. I notice this as I’m sitting in the car as my nice husband offered to put our recycling into the containers. The couple probably did not read the instructions carefully (or at all). Me, I’m an instruction reader, usually.

I’d like to think that if I had been standing next to the plastic-throwing couple I would have reminded them that you are supposed to take the lids off plastic bottles and containers. The lids are usually not recyclable and may result in the item being thrown out.

Yet, how could I rush from my car and say this to the happy couple? Really, they seemed joyous. . .

Then, at the cardboard receptacle we were greeted with a vastly overflowing container. Cardboard and paperboard items were blowing in the wind and sitting all around the outside of the container. All those good intentions going where?

The cardboard receptacle spectacle I can say something about. I’ll be calling the city.

But the question is, when do you say something to other people?

Personally, I don’t like it when strangers talk to me. And when I started my green efforts, I made an unwritten rule that I would not be preachy to others.

So, I ask, when is it OK to make a suggestion to random strangers? Is it better to just leave it alone?

I didn’t have my camera along for the adventure, so please enjoy a camping photo instead. Hopefully my husband doesn’t mind that I sometimes steal his great photography.

3 Responses to “When do you say something?”

  1. Jennifer on January 18, 2008 7:10 pm

    I think we should say something if it might make a difference. No one ever changed the world by staying silent. I agree that preachy is obnoxious, but, I’d never have known to take the lids off bottles had someone not told me. I’d never have thought to think about half the things I think about had someone not informed me.

    I think we have the capacity to be the one voice that makes a difference.

    If we’re nice about it, I don’t see how people could get upset – plus if they do they aren’t worth our time anyhow, they likely never would have changed. But, this is a good question.

  2. chocmoon on January 18, 2008 7:56 pm

    Thanks Jennifer. If I had been standing there beside the couple throwing in the plastic with lids, I think I would have said something. I just thought it would be strange to get out of the car and walk up to them.

    I guess I’m shy like that. Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. Bob on January 22, 2008 5:06 am

    That is a tough one. I’m generally not one to speak up to strangers, and I usually regret it later. The lady who is clearly being physically and verbally abusive to her kid in the doctor’s office waiting room… I should have said something to her. I share your dilemma!

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