This is the only way recycling actually works

I do recycle, and when it wasn’t insanely troublesome I put out my recyclables on the curb to go where they needed to go. I do not have a lot of faith that recycling does a lot of good in the grand scheme of things. I won’t go on about the points Joel has on recycling, I’m sure some of you have heard it already. Tee Hee. Joel thinks of the financial reasons to recycle or not, very often too much money is spent to recycle products that are not really important to recycle. But I said I wouldn’t go into that so I won’t. To make my conscience calm down a bit I do a couple things to reuse things in our house. I use paper bags all the time. They carry food from Aldi, they carry school supplies, food for special events, they hold rags, they get used to wrap art for mailing. I reuse all those plastic containers that luncheon meat comes in. I hardly ever throw away the plastic bags from Walmart unless they have meat juice or milk products all over them. I use them to line garbage cans and I use them to pack up things for mailing or moving. Someday I hope to learn how to crochet these plastic bags and make cool stuff like floor mats, reuseable shopping bags, baskets etc. These things are no-brainers, a lot of folks do these things.
If you haven’t checked out a mag called Ready-Made you should. It has lots of practical ways to recycle things in your own home. This is the only way you know the products you don’t need anymore become something worthwhile. My neighbor Jan gave me some lettuce before she left for Christmas vacation since it wouldn’t last much longer. We couldn’t even finish most of it before it went bad but I knew I would use the container. I stuck it in the dishwasher and accidentally stuck it on the bottom rack. The dishwasher melted both sections flat but not goopy. I remembered a project in Ready-Made that had a bowl made out of construction site fencing. It was cool all orange and hexagony. But I thought I could do the same thing with my wonky lettuce container. Show Nuff. I turned the oven on at 400 degrees and when it was pre-heated turned off the oven. I stuck a bowl with tin foil over it on a funky cookie sheet and centered my plastic sheet over top. I turned the oven light on and watched the plastic melt. The plastic turned out kinda milk glass looking(cool!), with little dishwasher splotches on it(not so cool). I did melt one edge a little too much but I still love how it turned out! It will grace our table for a while. And so kid friendly!


7 thoughts on “This is the only way recycling actually works

  1. Until I see evidence to the contrary recycling, as we know it, is a waste of time, money, and can be more harmful to the environment than help. At the very least it is more of an exercise in making people “feel” good than having a deep meaningful impact. To me the focus should be on reducing consumption. In many cases it takes more resources to renew something than it does to just make a new piece of paper for example.
    I encourage all passionate recyclers to at least look at some contrary evidence and facts before they spend half their free time washing out their plastic shampoo bottles to give to the recycling scam. Maybe you should do the prudent thing for the environment and throw away your plastic. Here’s a more in depth article:
    I wonder how people have critically interrogated the accepted thinking about recycling’s perceived benefits. Certainly, humans should leave as small a footprint on nature as possible, but, despite the claims of both well-meaning and self-interested environmentalists, recycling does nothing to reduce energy use or keep our environment clean.
    First, I ask students to consider that recycling is a labor- and energy-intensive process. When you recycle, someone has to collect what you gathered, always separately from your normal trash collection. That’s another large truck on the road making the same rounds, fully doubling the total amount of fossil fuels used in the collection of waste. And the reprocessing of these materials is not a natural process but a heavily industrial one, generating much the same industrial waste and chemicals that environmentalists fear, though this fact does not seem to ever make it into the public discourse about recycling. I’m willing to bet that most of that waste ends up in landfills anyway (which, by the way, are beautifully engineered, spacious and environmentally friendly).
    I would argue that the only material it makes sense to recycle is the aluminum can: It is more efficient to recycle aluminum than it is to mine the bauxite to make it. Your street urchins already know this: Nobody picks through your garbage for paper products, because they are without real value.
    Recycling paper is perhaps the biggest sham. Have you ever heard of a paper crisis, one like the gas crises we periodically experience? Nor are you likely to. Trees are a crop, just like potatoes or soybeans, and business treats it as such. The logging industry is highly regulated, and as with any other useful renewable resource, loggers replant what they take. If you want more trees, use more paper.
    Our national forests have actually grown in size since the beginning of the last century. Of course, the depletion of the rainforests is a problem, but one that is caused by poverty, not big business.
    Because recycling is so economically unrewarding, recycling programs are largely funded by taxpayers, who subsidize this colossal waste of time and resources. It seems unfair to me that I should be forced to fund a largely useless industry.

  2. Erin

    As to the main cause of the depletion of the rain forests I am ambivalent (and I mean that as an invitation to tell me what you know that I don’t, not as a challenge), but as to the inefficiency of recycling: I agree wholeheartedly. It is far more important to reduce your energy consumption by reducing your overall consumption of goods. Buy local produce, buy your clothing used, or make it. We all know how to do these things, we all know how our own grandparents once lived, not 70 years ago, but we can’t seem to break away from the lifestyle that we have been told is rightfully ours: driving two blocks to the grocery store, buying cheap clothing that will last maybe one year at H&M, throwing out things that break when we could easily fix them, getting a new cellphone every 6 months. Anyway, here are some cool pictures:

  3. Erin, I have no idea about the rain forests either. That was part of an article I pasted.
    I agree buying and making quality goods that last is where part of where the recycling focus should be directed. We buy something of quality at a thrift store rather than buying some piece of crap at Walmart. I put most of the responsibility on the consumer. The people that buy crappy products are responsible for keeping the company that sells them in business.

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