Is Recycling dead? Recycling is now a word to file under Greenwashing.
Have you noticed that 40% of local recycling centers have closed in the last two years?
China’s Green Sword has sliced through our trans-oceanic barge routes putting a stop to US deliveries of mountains of plastic. It has also imposed tighter restrictions on contamination of our “recyclable” paper as well, accepting now only a third of what we previously delivered. Greasy pizza boxes for example, are no longer welcome.
For me this is both happy and sad news. It is happy because it is JUST. Entitled Americans have become complacent in the comfort of knowing that another country far, far away is managing our waste. It’s painful to see the images of children in Developing Countries rummaging through giant heaps of OUR trash. It is sad, because if our discards with the feel-good name, “recyclables “, are no longer being re-purposed, we must shift our language and call it by its true name, “WASTE“.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the scrap value of plastic dropped when oil prices fell. It became cheaper to make plastic products from all new material rather than recycled materials. Since the Green Sword slashed the welcome mat for our disposable-lifestyle habits, India is following suit locking the ports to our “recyclables “.
In 2015, a paltry 9% of single-use plastic was recycled. In 2019, only 3%. According to Gabriel Silva, who oversees Recycling in the City of Pasadena, the City is struggling to keep curbside recycling alive. Other California cities are resorting to sending “recyclables’ to the landfill. Silva says organic waste is now the focus in Pasadena with a new collaboration between the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Unified School District. 301 Organics, proven waste managers of the Rose Bowl, has a new campaign, Zero Hunger, Zero Waste, and hopes to lead Pasadena to sustainable management of organics.
Plastic is merely fossil fuel in disguise. Every piece of plastic we use contributes to climate change. We must integrate this fact into our consciousness and make the paradigm shift. In a few years 20% of our fossil fuel extraction will be dedicated to creating single-use plastics.
Plastic never decomposes. It only breaks into tinier and tinier pieces in our soil and our oceans. Plastic is environmentally degrading from its extraction as crude fossil fuels leaking methane into the air, to its ingestion into the bodies of birds, sea life, and yes, ourselves. Most all humans now carry plastic chemicals in our blood streams and breast milk. We must humble ourselves as humans by respecting and protecting all life on the planet and begin to act on a clarified vision of a world without plastic.
Greenpeace announced that Trader Joe’s will reduce the use of plastic clamshells on fresh produce. Give them feedback. And just say no to plastic. It’s easy. Start with “No Straw Please”.