Wednesday, December 10, 2008

why can't i just recycle it-Part II

On the same day that Kerry read the NY Times article she posted about on the slowdown in the recycling system, I heard a story on NPR about the same thing! We both thought 'yes' this makes our point. Recycling is not a cure—it is band-aid. Band-aids are important mind you, but you really have to find a cure or what is under the band-aid will fester.
Take a listen to NPR's story I heard:
Falling Prices Take Toll On Municipal Recycling
and find out why recycling is not all it is cracked up to be and why we need to choose first to use less, then to reuse, then choose to recycle.

A couple of other thoughts...
1) I'm very skeptical of recycling generally just because a) I know/have seen more people put trash in with their recycling (in municipal pick up bins) than I have seen people do recycling the right way—very discouraging, and b) I have been told by trash/recycling LA County officials (at a booth at a local farmer's market) that "soiled" or "contaminated" recycling materials are unusable and sent directly to the dumb. So, that pizza box you think is recyclable isn’t if it has grease from the pizza on it or the newspaper thrown in with the beer cans that get wet from the beer are no longer usable… You put a) and b) together and you get a lot less recycling actually happening then we would like to think.
2) I've been reading the book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by McDonough and Braungart (I'll probably post more on the book in the future but I definitely recommend it). The book talks about the idea of 'downcycling' as opposed to ‘recycling'. Why? Because practically nothing is re-made or re-cycled into what it was before it is down-graded or down-cycled into something lower on the recycling food chain that will be less easy to recycle in the next go round and will eventually end up in a landfill. Example: plastic soda bottles can be made into a fleece jacket but the fleece jacket can't be recycled into anything else and will end up in a landfill, so the re in recycle doesn't go that far—the cycle ends rather abruptly.
3) The Chinese environment (rivers, forests, wetlands, etc.) are reeling from contaminants that are the by products of recycling, i.e. beach runoff from paper recycling ( no one wants to buy grayish reused paper). So, not only is it consuming energy to send our recycled products ‘out of sight out of mind’ and make them someone else’s business/problem, this industry also hurts the environment. We Americans are exporting our waste so we don’t have to deal with the consequences of it—shame.
Just some thoughts to keep in mind...

1 comment:

Citizen Green said...

Another problem with recycling is that people use it as a justification for consuming more. For example, they think it is okay to drink bottled water because they recycle the plastic bottle. We need to emphasize the "reduce" part of Reduce, reuse, recycle. The other 2 actions are a temporary step.

Linda A