Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

Moshe Sipper, Ph.D.
The Haven
Published in
5 min readJul 29, 2023

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I’m very conscientious when it comes to recycling, separating all the different kinds of refuse, taking care to place each item in the appropriate bin, and so forth.

So it stands to reason I’d write a story about recycling 🚮.

A short story, excerpt from my book Fredric.

AI-generated image (craiyon)

Disposable

Dinner at our home was never complete without my mother’s usual spiel about the harsh ol’ days. And tonight was no different.

“You kids have it so easy,” she said, her piercing gaze shifting from me to my wife Dehlia, to my kids Sarek and Amanda, and then back to me. “In my day I had to actually prepare the food, which would take hours. Then I’d have to set the table, clear the table when dinner was over, wash a pile of dishes, and clean the kitchen. And that was just fussing over food! Never mind getting the kids washed up and tucked in bed. So much work! Day in, day out, it was so exhausting!

You may have noticed my mother has this habit of emphasizing every word in five, thinking (mistakenly) that this somehow increases our attention span.

“Nowadays, it’s all disposable this and disposable that,” continued my mother angrily, as if the advance of technology was somehow our fault. “Everything is served on a silver platter!” We had long learned to hide our smiles at this since the dishes really were silvery in color. “That infernal machine over there produces any meal you can dream of at the push of a button.” She pointed to our old replicator, reminding me that it was high time I got a new one fabricated at the community replicator down the street. “And nobody has to set the table since you’ve got this … This table-setting machine!

“You mean Rob?” asked Sarek innocently, knowing full well the reaction this would incite, and blatantly ignoring my stern, admonishing look.

Don’t use that name as if it were a person!” cried my mother. “It’s a darn machine, that’s what it is.” She sighed. “Can life get much easier? One machine creates the food, the other places it on the table. And when dinner’s over everything goes down the drain, no need to wash any dishes!”

“It’s not a drain, Grandma,” remarked Amanda calmly, “it’s a biochute — ”

“It’s a drain!” insisted my mother forcibly.

Amanda ignored the outburst. “that takes in all our dishes, which are made of biodegradable material, and — ”

“Well aren’t we ever so smart!” interjected my mother. “Biochute. Now there’s a big word for you. I say it’s a drain. Who’s to say it really decomposes stuff into elemental molecules, like the ads say? I swear to you, it’s all a pack of lies. I’m certain everything just goes into the ground, and one day there’ll be hell to pay!

“Mother,” I said gently, “we’ve come a long way in the last few decades. It’s not like in the past when disposable dishes were made of non-degradable, toxic material, such as plastic. Everything we manufacture nowadays is one-hundred percent environmentally friendly.”

“So you say,” replied my mother doubtfully. “Don’t believe everything the government says. In fact, don’t believe anything they say!”

Every evening there came a moment when I’d have to do my utmost not to lose my temper. Now was that moment. With every ounce of patience I could muster I said quietly, “Mother, may I remind you that I’m an ecological engineer, with a subspecialty in biodegradable materials?”

Dehlia, who hadn’t said a word until now, added with pride, “And a darn good engineer!”

Never to be beaten my mother replied, “Oh, shush, the both of you.” A few moments of silence ensued, as my mother needed time to regroup and devise a new argument. Of course, I knew what it would be. Having lost the food fight, the time was just about ripe for the shower speech.

Mother looked at me sternly. “You have no idea how exhausting it was to get you and your sister into the shower! Your father, of course, was no help. Useless. Why every night I’d crawl into bed so tired I thought I’d sleep for a week. But, oh, heavens, no. Every morning it would all start over again. Setting the table. Making breakfast. Getting you kids ready for school. Getting you to eat your breakfast. Clearing up, cleaning, washing.” She became suddenly quiet as if the mere memory of past travails was fatiguing.

We were almost done with the meal and I could tell that Sarek and Amanda were about to begin their usual post-dinner squabble.

I was right.

“It’s my turn today!” cried Sarek, as Rob cleared the table, plunking all the dishes and leftovers into the chute.

“But you did it yesterday!” exclaimed Amanda.

Not to be outdone, Sarek, said, “Yeah, but you did it twice in a row before that!”

I was about to intervene, when, thankfully, Dehlia took the lead. “Kids, please, let’s not argue after such a fine meal.” I cast her a loving, grateful look.

“Fine meal,” mumbled Mother. “Hah!”

“How about we do the following,” suggested Dehlia softly. “Amanda will do it today, and then Sarek will have the next two evenings?”

The kids grumbled but nodded their consent. Without further ado, Amanda rose from her seat, with a big smile covering her face. She picked up Grandma and swiftly dumped her into the chute.

I yawned. I was quite tired after a long day at work, and I just wanted to head straight for the shower and then to bed. Of course, what kind of an ecological engineer would I be if I failed to clean up the environment first? So Dehlia, Sarek, and Amanda went into the chute.

Now I was ready for that shower.

AI-generated image (craiyon)

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Moshe Sipper, Ph.D.
The Haven

Swashbuckling Buccaneer of Oceanus Verborum 🌊 4x Boosted Writer 🚀