SF residents too nostalgic to recycle Mr. Potato Head

San Francisco denizens wandering outside to deposit their mandatory composting and recycling may have been startled by an unexpected companion — Mr. Potato Head.

The wide-eyed tuber stares into the hearts of nostalgic recyclers from the sticker adorning the blue bin and illustrating what materials are acceptable to toss within. Along with Mr. Potato Head, San Franciscans are urged to recycle items such as boxes of Cap'n Crunch cereal and back copies of Fast Company magazine. The toy made an appearance on newly issued blue bins starting this summer.

The concept is simple: Mr. Potato Head would be more appropriately named Mr. Plastic, of which he is entirely crafted — and, short of plastic wrap or plastic bags, any sort of plastic is acceptable in a blue bin. But city residents don't see bits of plastic when they glimpse Mr. Potato Head. They see vestiges of their childhood. And then they get angry.

Mark Westlund, a spokesman for the city's Department of the Environment, confirmed that it will be removing Mr. Potato Head from future printed materials as soon as possible. Quite simply, San Franciscans have been too emotionally affected by the sight of Mr. Potato Head to absorb the intended message of placing him alongside detergent bottles, disposable cups, and other plastic items. As a result, the city has received a number of indignant calls. "They say, 'That's Mr. Potato Head! You can't throw him away! You've gotta give him to the neighbor kids!'" Westlund says. "People identify with him so much."

That being said, any plastic remnants of your youth are copacetic with the city's recycling services. Legos, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Connect Four, Barrel of Monkeys — toss 'em in. Westlund confirms that, should the housing crunch force Barbie and Ken out of their dream house, there's always space for them in a stinky blue abode. You wouldn't even have to remove Barbie's hair.

But, he notes, first you should try giving them to the neighbor kids.

 
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