Monday, September 23, 2013

Change is difficult

The neighborhood in which I live recently received new recycling bins from the city. Now that people have the ne new, larger bins, the city will only collect recyclables every other week, instead of weekly. The city uses trucks that have a mechanical arm to empty the new bins, saving labor costs and helping to keep property taxes in check.

On my morning run the first day of the new schedule for collecting trash and recyclables, I observed a surprising number of both the old and the new recycling bins curbside. A couple of residents even had placed both the old and new bins curbside. Our neighborhood, as indicated on the schedule, had only trash collected the first week; the city collected the recyclables, along with the trash, the following week but only from the new bins.

The city distributed color-coded calendars and clearly worded guidance on when and how the new collection policy would take effect. After noting the number of people who had incorrectly followed the guidance, I reexamined the materials the city had distributed, thinking that perhaps they were unclear. However, the information was straightforward and simple.

Unsurprisingly, when one residence got the schedule wrong, usually several of the neighbors followed suit. Peer pressure affects most of us, not just the young.

Furthermore, some of my neighbors object to the new bins, contending that the bins are too large (the bins are on wheels and are smaller than the trash bins). I find the new bins are a significant environmental improvement because they hold almost four times the amount of material that the old bins held, encouraging recycling rather than disposing of in the trash, which ends up in a landfill.

The experience underscores how difficult people find change – even an uncomplicated, rather incidental, well-explained change that offers ecological and potential financial benefits. Yet our bodies and our world are constantly changing, sometimes in life-altering ways. No wonder that so many of us find change difficult!

I'm reminder of the words of the preacher:

Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher,

vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

What do people gain from all the toil

at which they toil under the sun?

A generation goes, and a generation comes,

but the earth remains forever.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4; 3:1-8 (NRSV))

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