A Green Thing
One - Part 5
“What?” She looked up in surprise.
“There’s paint in there.”
“So that grate is for rainwater runoff.”
“So?” Now she gave me a defiant stare.
“So the paint in there will harm fish and plant life.”
“Brooke! What are you doing?”
“The fish won’t mind a little paint in—”
“That is so wrong!” I went over and looked down on her. She’s this petite little blond thing (a gymnast, she’s told us several times). “Don’t ever do that again. Do you understand?”
“Don’t get so worked up, Maya.” But she took a couple of steps back like she thought I was going to hit her. Okay, maybe I felt like hitting her, but I would never do something like that.
“And quit being so mean to Brooke.” This came from Amanda, who was standing by her friend now.
“I’m not being mean,” I said as calmly as I could. “I just think we should show some respect for the environment.”
Brooke laughed. “What are you? Some kind of environmental freak? A green bean?”
“A tree-hugger?” added Amanda.
Well, all I could do was just walk away. Still, I plan to stand my ground on not contaminating the environment. To my surprise, Marissa, Spencer, and Jake all backed me on this—although it’s possible that it was simply their way of standing against Brooke and Amanda. I think Matt was afraid to say anything. Mostly I’m hoping that Brooke and Amanda won’t show tomorrow.
AfterMarissa dropped me at Kim and my uncle’s house (I still have a hard time calling it home, although I want to), I was still feeling grumpy. And when I saw Kim putting something in the garbage can, well, I kind of lost it.
“What are you doing?”
“Huh?” Her dark eyes grew large. “Taking out the trash.”
“But is that really trash?” I pulled an empty tomato soup can off the top of the bag in her hands. “This can be recycled.”
She shrugged. “Yes, I know that.”
“And this.” I grabbed an empty peanut butter jar.
“Yes…” She frowned.
“And these newspapers?”
I pulled a section of the news out, sending garbage tumbling onto the
garage floor. “I can use these to compost with.” I’ve
already been scavenging items for the compost station out in the garden.
Although my uncle has been forgetting and throwing his used coffee grounds
down the sink.
Kim made a face at me. “Looks like I’ve been arrested by the EP.”
“Environmental Police.” She set down the garbage bag. “Do you plan to lock me up, or can I get off with just a fine?”
I forced a smile. “Sorry, I guess I came on a little strong.”
Then I told her about Brooke. “I guess I’m hypersensitive today.” I looked down at the spilled trash. “And this is your house. I really don’t have any—”
“Look, Maya…” Kim paused. “You’re absolutely right to care about the environment. And I totally agree with you.”
“Yes. Except that recycling takes time. And I work all day. And then there are household chores and dinner and—”
“And I should help out more,” I said, feeling guilty.
“No, you’ve been helping a lot.”
“How about I take over the trash detail? I could separate recyclables and make a system that’s easy for everyone to use.”
She nodded. “That would be awesome, Maya. I’m sure Dad would appreciate it too.”
So that’s just what I did. And it probably sounds crazy to some people, but getting everything all organized actually felt really good to me. Okay, maybe it was one small step for Maya Stark, but it was one giant leap for the Peterson household—and not bad for the environment either. To start with, I retrieved several old five-gallon buckets from my aunt’s garden shed. I cleaned them up and clearly labeled them. One for glass. One for metal. One for soda cans that can be returned to the store for a refund. One for newspapers. Then I called the garbage service to find out if and when they pick up these things. As it turned out, they don’t. And I thought that was wrong. So I approached my uncle.
“I can’t believe your town doesn’t encourage recycling,” I said as I showed him my new system. “Lots of sanitation businesses offer special boxes for their customers to use to separate their recyclables.”
To my surprise he wholeheartedly agreed with me. And he appreciated that I’d set them up to recycle. “Maybe there’s a way we can encourage this through the newspaper,” he said. “Because you’re right. We need to catch up with the times here.”
And so, despite the irritation of people like Brooke Marshall, I am feeling hopeful. There are people who are concerned about the planet. And really, shouldn’t Christians be extra concerned? I mean, they know the God who created the planet. Doesn’t that make them want to take special care of it?
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