Am I making a difference?

Sometimes it's fun to look through the latest poll or survey and see that your opinions or actions are in agreement with the majority.

That wasn't true as I read the tremendous amount of information gathered by Ross Atkin, Mary Wiltenburg, and Amanda Paulson for today's section. I do find myself right in step with the most recent household recycling trends – but that isn't necessarily a good thing.

Like most of us, I fill a blue bin with recyclables each week. Into it go newspapers, 2-liter plastic soft-drink bottles and milk jugs from which I've dutifully removed the labels, and often some cardboard.

I've done my duty, right? Well, not really. Although my family uses few cans, the ones we discard go into the trash can. I tell myself it's hard to completely wash dog food from a can and lid – especially without cutting yourself. And, living in a city as I do, I don't want to keep anything around that might attract rats. Excuses, excuses.

I have no idea if I'm handling the cardboard correctly. The desired way to organize recycled materials varies from community to community; so does which items are accepted for recycling. Surely this confusion lessens the average person's commitment to recycling. So must reports that in some places it costs more to recycle materials than to haul them to a landfill.

But in reading today's section, I've caught some of the excitement and sense of purpose generated by the first Earth Day in 1970. All week I've been scrupulous about recycling, whether it's convenient or not.

Next year, I plan to be ahead of the statistics, not thoughtlessly lagging in the middle. The effort to improve the environment deserves more aid than I've been giving it.

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