July 29 - August 4, 2018
The Tour de France has ended! It was a good one with plenty of drama. My take away, however, is about plastic use awareness. The leading team in professional cycling these days is a British team called Team Sky. They have #PassOnPlastic on their uniforms and after a couple of days of watching I became curious about what it means. Oh yeh, there’s also the outline of a whale on their backs.
Team Sky has become involved in promoting awareness of plastic pollution in our oceans and efforts at clean up as well as reducing our use of single use plastic. This led me deeper into plastic use and recycling in general. Did you know that much of our recycling ends up in land fills? China used to buy much of the worlds minimally processed recycling but has cut back and now has much higher standards for what they will accept.
You are probably aware that recycling companies ask for clean recyclables. No food particles or excess oil on that pizza box for instance but you might not realize how important that is. When the cardboard is combined to make a bundle a machine does a reading to detect contamination by non-cardboard substances. If the contamination is over the acceptable level the entire bundle is discarded and most likely ends up in a landfill! The ENTIRE BUNDLE!!!
Not only that but if you toss your empty cereal box into the recycling bin with the waxy bag the cereal was packaged in still inside there is a very good chance the same thing happens. Too much non-cardboard contamination results in the ENTIRE BUNDLE going to the landfill.
We cannot get away from plastic use in the modern world and we probably don’t want to. There are many wonderful and worthwhile uses for plastic but is a single use straw one of them? How about the plastic lid that comes on top of your take away drink? I was surprised to learn that my Starbucks hot coffee cup is not recyclable! They continue to work towards a cup that is recyclable but currently hot cups have a thin plastic lining to prevent the hot beverage from soaking into the paper cup and that makes the cup two things, plastic and paper and current recycling is unable to handle that in most recycling centers. I think there might be a couple of centers able to handle that combo, one in New York and one in Washington. I think.
So friends, let’s all do what we can! Carry your own straw! Eliminate or reduce your plastic water bottle use. Buy a cup to take to your favorite coffee place instead of using a disposable cup. And by the way, you have to go inside a Starbucks with your personal cup. They have to keep the drive through moving and are making your drink while you sit comfortably in your car. They will make it in a disposable cup and pour it into your personal cup when you reach the window. Sorry, there are some sacrifices. But if you think that’s too hard or you don’t want to change take a look at your local waste disposal site. How much has it grown since you’ve been living wherever you are? How much will it grow by the time your grandchildren are adults. There are 632 active landfills in the U.S. according to the EPA. I don't think that includes transfer stations. There are a couple of thousand inactive landfills.
Its time for us to be more responsible stewards of our beautiful home, Mother Earth.