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When Mount Pleasant resident David Harrington retrieved his recycling bin on Nov. 18, he discovered that the city had left him a surprise. “Congratulations!” says the letter from the Department of Public Works (DPW). “You have been selected as the recipient of some prizes for having perfectly prepared recycling materials.” Harrington received a goody bag including an “America Recycles” T-shirt, water bottle, and Frisbee, all made from recycled materials. D.C.’s Office of Recycling awarded one goody bag per ward to commemorate America Recycles Day on Nov. 15. “Every now and again, the recycling team likes to catch someone in the act of doing something right,” says DPW spokesperson Mary Myers. Harrison won, she says, because he places his house’s recyclables, cleaned and dried, loose in the bin—not separated in plastic bags. But rather than reveling in his victory, Harrington sees an inconsistent message in the prize. “I wasn’t really excited about getting stuff that is just going to get thrown out,” he says. “In my mind, it defeated the purpose of recycling in the first place.” —