MayBelle Goes Environmental

MayBelle likes to think she’s pretty conscious about the environment, although it’s unlikely any of her friends would label her a “tree hugger.” She has, in her later years, come to appreciate and enjoy the outdoors much more than she did when she was younger, and anytime she can head over to Radnor Lake in Nashville or the mountains of western North Carolina, she likes to hike and explore as much as the next middle-aged goober. Nature does her soul good.

She doesn’t litter, and she tries to donate, reuse, or recycle whenever possible. She’s trying to wean herself from single-use plastic, and she’s begun using small, washable towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen.

Seeing that she’s really an even-keeled sort of gal who, for the most part, believes in “live and let live,” she was a bit surprised at her visceral reaction to the recent “spring cleaning” in her neighborhood.

Word came round that there would an opportunity, one Saturday morning, to have old papers and documents shredded and to donate any appropriate items to Goodwill. Trucks would be on site for several hours just for these purposes. The neighborhood association would also order several dumpsters to be placed throughout the neighborhood for residents to use for a week. 

“Woot!” thought MayBelle. “This will be a great way to get rid of those tax documents from 2003 and to pass along the clothes my friend said make me look like an eighty-year-old widow.”

MayBelle thought that was a tad harsh, but she could see her friend’s point. MayBelle must admit she often talks as if she’s ready for a senior-living community. Thankfully, this particular friend has pretty good taste, and now MayBelle’s closet sports more purple and blue than grey and black.

That Saturday, MayBelle could hardly contain herself, she was so excited. As the days went on, though, she noticed a lot of items being placed in dumpsters that she thought still had some life left in them. She resisted the temptation at first, really she did, but soon she could no longer stand idly by. MayBelle is nothing if not a woman of conviction. So she started skimming, just a piece at a time. Such that you’d hardly notice, unless you were Precious, or her neighbor Marshall, who said, and MayBelle quotes him here: “Hanging on to the side of the dumpster like that is not really a good look for you.” So many critics….

Before you imagine MayBelle upside down (what a sight that would be!), let the record show she did not go “dumpster diving,” for what would have required her to actually get in the dumpster and thereby earn the tongue wagging of more neighbors and the disgust of Precious. So she limited herself to what she could easily take off the top. To wit:

Two large, planter urns that she gave to a friend who was delighted;

A brand-new cream-colored lampshade, still wrapped in plastic and not a ding on it;

A framed print that doesn’t suit MayBelle but will spruce up someone’s home quite nicely;

Three more outdoor planters, all in great condition;

An unopened box of felt chair pads and assorted hooks for hanging pictures;

Two plastic storage bins (clean! with lids!);

And, the biggest score of all, a small outdoor iron table with a beautiful mosaic tile top, which now graces her front porch. She had coffee out there this morning.

MayBelle also spied a piece of art, a sweet little floral oil painting, but she couldn’t wiggle it out from under the microwave on top of it. Later, while MayBelle was bemoaning her missed opportunity, Precious came in the house and said, “I think Baxter’s dog walker is getting your painting out of the dumpster.” She was, and MayBelle hopes she enjoys it.

Leaving the neighborhood yesterday, MayBelle thought she saw a small leather footstool teetering on top of a mattress in the dumpster closest to her house. 

“I’ll check that out when I get back from my errands,” she told herself, already imagining how perfect it would be back in the den, next to the bookshelf. Just the ticket. Alas, it was gone some forty-five minutes later when she returned. Same for the small mattress spring MayBelle was going to use for an art project. Apparently MayBelle is not the only one in the neighborhood with a discerning eye.

She gets it, really she does, that some material things simply have to go to the dump in the end.  That sometimes the fabric shoe rack that hung over your closet door for years is too ripped or saggy to be useful. That maybe your kid’s plywood art table simply can’t be put back together. What irks her, though, is the waste of perfectly good items, and adding unnecessarily to the landfills. So many things that folks tossed, to her mind at least, might have helped others. This afternoon, MayBelle stopped short of grabbing two area rugs, a floor lamp, and a big wicker basket, because the backseat and trunk of her car are already full of retrieved items she’s determined to find good homes for.

MayBelle’s not saying that your trash is someone else’s treasure, necessarily. But maybe it could be someone’s “make do” or “just what I need to get me by.” It’s the principle of the thing.

The dumpsters will be taken away tomorrow. MayBelle will make a final assessment tonight as she walks Norval, and she’ll do her best to leave well enough alone. She’ll circle around several times before making a move, and she’ll make sure Marshall isn’t watching. But if that perfectly good, green plastic lawn chair is still available, you might be sitting in it the next time you come over for tea. 

15 responses to “MayBelle Goes Environmental”

  1. Love Maybelle’s glorious brainstorm or dare we say awakening?

    1. MayBelle tries to wake up more every day!

  2. As always, entertaining and well written! I do recycle the obvious cans, bottles, and paper but I overlook how larger practical items can be utilized in new ways. Thanks for making me think about that.

    1. Thank you! MayBelle is happy to advise on all things dumpstery as needed.

  3. Oh, Amy Lyles, Maybelle is a woman after my heart! The next time your NA plans an event like that, you need to call me.

    1. MayBelle is making a note to call you next time! Although she doubts her neighborhood will ever rent dumpsters again, such was the disregard for the regulations. Think: overfilling, putting in forbidden items, etc.

  4. So perfect, and I share Maybelle’s passion for “saving the good stuff!”
    Loved it!!

    1. Thank you! And yes, you and MayBelle share many fine qualities.

  5. Too wonderful!! Love it, and — of course — can totally relate!!

  6. Laughed out loud! You gave me the courage to dig up and rescue some neighborhood landscaping flowers with my Vandy doctor neighbor (her plan, I was the accomplice) in the cover of night that would be dug up and pitched out by the landscape company tomorrow. Most fun I’d had in ages! Fran

    1. Then MayBelle’s work here is done!

  7. Sharon Machrone Avatar
    Sharon Machrone

    My heart was breaking, along with MayBelle’s, hearing about perfectly beautiful things going into a ( clutching my pearls here…) dumpster. There are so many places that accept slightly used things, no longer of use or to taste, that would bring someone else absolute joy. MayBelle wants us all to think twice about, what we call garbage, might just have a second life in its little inanimate soul.

    1. Thankfully, MayBelle was not wearing her pearls when she was curating her dumpster finds! And she appreciates this immensely: “…might just have a second life in its little inanimate soul.”

  8. Oh, Amy, I laughed when I read about your neighbor’s comment that hanging on to the side of a dumpster wasn’t a good look for you. I’m glad to know that you have a hankering to save items that can be reused. I’m the same way. Unfortunately, the desire to find a home for something that can be reused sometimes results in a cluttered house that I can’t ever seem to straighten up! I love your writing. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Anne. So kind of you to read and comment. And yes, MayBelle has to watch those yard sales…