July 29, 2010

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Recycle, and you may win free Snapple and underwear

Are you done with that vitamin water? Good. I'll take the bottle;  just stuff it into my backpack if you don't mind. No, I haven't turned packrat. I've simply joined the RecycleBank, which bills itself as “The premier rewards and loyalty program that motivates  people to recycle and to engage in environmentally virtuous activities.”

The way it works is that you paste a city-issued bar code on your  recycling bin, and the trash collectors (who obviously didn't have  enough to do already) scan your can so that the authorities can keep track of which neighborhoods are doing the most recycling. Individual citizens in those neighborhoods then receive “RecyleBank Points,” based on their neighborhood's performance, which can be redeemed for goods and services (like maybe a $200,000 grant from State Rep. Dwight Evans).

In order to sign up for the program, you just log on to, tell them a little bit about yourself (hopes, dreams), upload a recent nude photo of yourself, and wait for your  bar code to arrive in the mail. After that, you just need to have a computer chip implanted into your brain in order to facilitate the reward/punishment aspect of the program.

All of your subsequent movements will be tracked and evaluated in terms of their environmental righteousness. Activities like reporting neighbors who don't have bar codes will be rewarded by stimuli to the pleasure centers of the brain, while activities like putting plastic in the regular trash will result in non-lethal electric shocks and the posting of disparaging remarks about you on Facebook. In extreme cases (very rare), “Curby Bucket,” the recycling mascot, will come to your home and personally punch you in the face.

The program has proved successful in many other cities, like Happyville, Utah, where compliance is now at 100%. I must say, I was skeptical about the whole affair until I got my first RecyleBank  Points and felt the rush of power that ensued. The list of prizes is  nearly endless: cat food, Snapple, donuts, underwear, you name it. 

Personally, I want to save up all my points until I have enough to  buy New Jersey (if Governor Christie doesn't do it first). I have to admit, I went a little overboard at first in my pursuit of points. I started sneaking around neighboring zip codes late at night, stealing their recyclables and putting them in my own bin. 

Then I got the brilliant idea of simply making hundreds of Xerox  copies of my own barcode and pasting it over the barcodes in other  neighborhoods.

My point total (and those of my neighbors) went through the roof. We  had 50 times the points of our nearest competitors. On my block,  Snapple flowed like water. We ate donuts at every meal. “Green”  became the new gold. We were pillaging and plundering our unwitting competitors throughout the city without their ever knowing it.

I guess I got a little cocky. I started bragging about my racket to  everyone I met. Then one day I got a text message from the city: MR. HARRIS: WE KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING. STOP IMMEDIATELY!

This was followed by a series of dull shocks to my cerebral cortex — kind of like warning shots across the bow. That was enough for me.  That night I began removing all the counterfeit barcodes I had  placed, and I began traveling around the city with my new sidekick, Curby Bucket, singing the praises of curbside recycling.

So yea, I say unto ye, brothers and sisters, that there is power and  glory in recycling. It will lead us from the darkness of the landfill  into the gleaming light of eco-purity. Reduce, reuse, recycle, 

REPENT! And I'm not just saying that because I have a chip in my  brain. Honest.


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