Windbreaking News: Uncle Sam’s secret recycling program


Helping you out since 2001.


Welcome to Windbreaking News, where I sniff out the news for you.


Reliable sources, who just happen to live in my head, informed me of a huge recycling effort that the U.S. government operates on behalf of its citizens. Of course, it’s a clandestine operation and doesn’t look like a recycling program because it’s more fun that way.


What the government doesn’t know, but I do (thank you, sources in my head!) is that if someone informs the American public, the recycling program will take off like never before.


In 2001, Uncle Sam set up an agency and sent its workers throughout the country to help Americans recycle. In order not to alarm anyone or alert the public to their true purpose, these uniformed helpers pretended to be angry, rude gropers at security checkpoints in airports. But underneath that façade are a host of recyclers tirelessly working on behalf of the government and us, the Mer’can people. We salute you, Uncle Sam!


Since most Americans do not understand how or when to recycle, our fearless leaders set up TSA (Taking Stuff Away) to help us. These trained professionals spend day and night going through your stuff, identifying items to recycle, which you, the great untrained, failed to properly dispose of. The shame!


Agents representing the U.S government (All Your Base Are Belong to US) remove unnecessary items from your suitcases, such as electronics, jewelry, and cloth. Few people realize that your so-called “money” is a cotton and linen blend that needs to be periodically recycled.


Does this grieve you? Are you outraged? Are you asking yourself or yourselves why your weren’t informed about this earlier so you could so something about it? Well, grieve no more and stop bothering yourself(ves) with so many questions. It’s not too late. You can help the government recycle more.


The next time you fly, put your broken electronics in your suitcase. Take that awful fake ring Aunt Ethel gave you and put it in one of those velvet jewelry bags. Be sure to place it on top so the agents don’t have to dig. It’s time to participate, people. Be creative; the sky’s the limit. We can be the world champion recyclers, crushing our contenders like so many empty soda cans.

 Recycle. It’s the American way.


Full disclosure: I support the TSA and have participated in their recycling program. A while back, agents were kind enough to recycle an iPad from my backpack at a checkpoint. Unfortunately I didn’t notice until I got on the plane so I never got to thank them. I salute you, TSA!


Warning: If the egregious use of exclamation marks (aka “bangs”) in this post causes heart palpations, nausea, or ringing in your ears, please stop reading immediately; call your psychiatrist or a friend, even if he or she is imaginary. If your imaginary friend likes the egregious use of bangs, go here.




Photo: DN-0088741, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

21 thoughts on “Windbreaking News: Uncle Sam’s secret recycling program

  1. I was wishing these folks would come to my house and start the process until they took your iPad. That is just not fair. Why do they get one when I haven’t even gotten one yet?

    On the other hand, maybe they’ll take this crappy computer I’m typing on. And that would be a service I’d be glad to have them perform.

    (Loved the Bangs post — it must have been written before I knew you!)

    • The next time you fly, remove the hard disk and conveniently leave your laptop in your baggage. By the time you arrive at your destination, the computer will be someone else’s problem.

      So glad you liked the Bangs post. Thanks for reading.

      • I’m cracking up here. Years ago when I lived in India, there were really strict rules against importing … anything!!! ( Here are three Bangs … because they really were strict). One time I brought one of the earlier word processors past the eagle-eyed customs officer in Bombay. I took it apart. I had bits in my purse, other parts in my luggage and a few tucked under gifts in gift boxes. I put it back together when I got home.

        • You were clever to be able to put the thing back together again.

          I have several no longer usable electronic items that need recycling, and I would dearly love to put them in the hands of those TSA recyclers. If every traveler did that, they might tire of “recycling” out of people’s baggage.

  2. Thanks for your informative post. I now understand the purpose of all that nonsense and you can be sure I will bring along hazmat chemicals in bottles over 3 ounces so I no longer have to worry about disposal. I wonder if I could bring my old paint cans. You know the ones that say avocado green and harvest gold…..

    • I wonder if there is any way to dress up old batteries with some bling. Maybe you could dress up the old paint cans with labels that you print off yourself. Try one of those high-end face creams. 🙂

  3. winsomebella

    Oh my 😦 If you had the locator app on your iPad, you might have been able to retrieve it and id the culprit–recycler. My brother was in Mexico and his iPad was stolen from his room. He went to the local police and showed them his iPhone which had located exactly where the missing iPad could be found. The cops drove with him to the house but once they realized who lived there and had apparently stolen it, the police refused to even knock on the door. I would be in a panic if I lost mine.

    • By the time I was able to activate the finder, there was no signal. I’m sure they had done that many, many times and knew exactly what to do. They let me through the scanner once and then asked if I had a computer in the backpack. When I said it was an iPad, they took my backpack, “checked” it, and put it back through the scanner. I was standing in my bare feet on the other side of the walk-through scanner, so I couldn’t go back and see what they were doing. It never crossed my mind that they were recycling.

  4. I for one am glad to see the government step in and expand a program that used to be the burden of only a few free-lance recyclers at every airport! As those bold pioneers die out or fade away, this comprehensive program is stepping up to get the job done, bigger and better! Thanks for sharing the news, bang-bang-bang!!! (I think the British used to call them “screamers”)

  5. Margie

    Thanks for the valuable advice. I really couldn’t understand what all the disrobing and unpacking was all about, but now I do – what a clever way of separating me from my belongings, all in the name of national security!

    • The government is quite modest about revealing this recycling program. For all the things they have recycled from unwitting passengers and people who didn’t realize it was time to give up their computers and other valuables, you would think they’d be proud. That’s why I’m here. To give the government a big salute for doing this.

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