Some months ago I discovered that Coke was selling small six packs of Coke in glass bottles with metal caps, just like the old days! This made me happy. I thought Coke was making a trend toward reusing benign glass containers. This also made me happy because those tiny bottles were perfect to enjoy a Coke at home. Eight ounces with ice is exactly the right amount to satisfy my craving for something sweet, but not so much sugar and carcinogens that I feel guilty. A six pack would last several weeks. Eventually I had six little cartons of small Coke bottles to return to the store for the deposit. I bagged them all up and hauled them to town yesterday.
When I checked out at the grocery store, I set all of the empties on the conveyor, and the young - very young - check out girl was taken aback. "You have empty bottles." She looked at me accusingly. I thought maybe she was slow or damaged, and I was irritated with her. The sad truth is that she was truly mystified by the cartons of empty bottles. She had to call another kindergarten-aged "manager" over where they slowly explained to me that they do not accept empty bottles, with the exception of glass milk jugs. They were irritated with me for holding up the line and interfering in their day. We all looked at each other, wondering what planet the other generation was from. The baby manager politely asked/told me she was giving my bottles back as she was gingerly loading them back into my cart.
So this is what our decades of recycle and reuse and environmental consciousness have come to: millions of glass bottles going to the trash. I left the store feeling embarrassed in the short term, and depressed overall. Apparently it is cheaper for Coke to just make new bottles forever than it is to reuse them. Nothing in our government, nothing in our laws, and nothing we have taught our children has made a bit of difference in the wasteful, consumer society we have created.
I have four little bottles of Coke left in the refrigerator. I am going to enjoy them because they will be the last ones. I have to find a place to recycle the empties I have now. And it occurs to me to ask why my adult children have not kept me informed and up to date regarding what the hell is going on in the world these days? It is part of their job description as my offspring to keep me from embarrassing myself.