This week is kind of a big milestone. We are officially ONE HALF of the way through our Year of No Garbage. We are very excited about it, and by this I mean that I am very excited about it.
In honor of the occasion I have compiled a list of the…
Top Ten Things I Have Learned So Far:
1. Plastics are made out of fossil fuels.
Maybe everyone already knew this but me. What astounds me about this fact is that oil is at the heart of so many bad, bad things: the source of not only the greenhouse gases that accelerate global warming, BUT ALSO the plastic pollution of our oceans, AND the micro-plastics in our drinking water. Shall we get into the debate about chemical fertilizers? It is also responsible for taking Friends off of Netflix. Probably.
2. There is no such thing as “not recyclable.”
It’s just a matter of the lengths we are willing to go to in terms of cost and effort.
3. SO MANY plastics can be recycled in the supermarket plastic bag recycling bin.
This is a deeply underused resource that everyone should know about. Bread bags, plastic overwrap, Ziploc bags, produce bags, bubble wrap and plastic mailers can ALL be recycled in these bins. Tell everyone.
4. Just because something is labeled “compostable” doesn’t actually mean you can compost it.
5. “Chemical Recycling” is a euphemism for “burning garbage.”
Of course it is.
6. Where our recyclables go, now that China no longer accepts them.
Municipalities have had to decide between paying a small fortune for recycling companies to take recyclables and sending them to the landfill. I don’t like recycling’s chances.
7. No matter what the internet says, you can’t just send your old toothpaste tubes to Terracycle.
But if you can deal with their system, you can pay them to recycle everything from toothbrushes to cigarette butts. This is ninja-level recycling.
8. You can’t recycle shredded paper, but you can compost it.
I know, right? And contrary to popular belief, you can compost meat, cooking oil and bones too. Just use a container (to keep pests down) and give it time.
9. No one ever died from paper towel deprivation.
10. The key to living a more earth-friendly life— or one of them— is slowing down and being thoughtful.
Ask questions. Make a phone call. Fix things. Go out of your way. Think twice. Three times. Don’t give up on objects quite so fast.
Things I have yet to find out:
1. Why aren’t plastics infinitely recyclable, like aluminum or glass?
2. What is the difference between “biodegradable” and “compostable”?
3. Can anything good be done with thermal-paper receipts? Or packing tape? Or broken glass? Old cassette tapes? Here’s a tough one: photographic prints. Remember “free double prints”? Ugh.
4. Can hard plastic with no recycling numbers be recycled? Or is it from another dimension?
5. Is taking out the compost really “the grossest job in the world”? Or is that just what my kids say?
I have six more months to figure these things out and more. What Garbage/Recycling/Zero Waste questions do YOU have? Let me know and I’ll try to answer them.
Have a happy Fourth of July!