One Way to Improve

My father is a Super Recycler.

In the gray bin he keeps out on the back porch, you find newspapers and Bed, Bath & Beyond ads, of course. Alongside them, there are empty sugar packets, the flimsy bit of film that separates cottage cheese from the lid, the piece of plastic that rings a jug of orange juice, and on.

When I am home with my father, I put the tinfoil yogurt cup lids in the gray bin and those bright plastic tags that close up bread bags, too.

I make an effort, I care a bit more, I become a better recycler just by being with my father.

As many teachers, scientists, elders before me have said, if we want to improve at something, spend time with someone who’s already good at it.

If I want to eat more slowly (and I do), I’d do well to spend time with slow eaters. And it doesn’t just have to be skills or abilities, it can be a commitment of time. If I want to make more time for writing, I’d be well-served to join a writers’ group.

Sometimes even just being around folks who are determined – be it to learn Swahili, make cabinets, try more butternut squash recipes – and living out their determination, can make us more determined.

Whether we realize it or not, the people who populate our environment inform how we live. And if we’re intent on improving our ways, filling our environment with Super Recyclers is a powerful way to live.

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