The Big Obstacle that is Plastic.

I don’t mean to be a downer, but I get a little sad when I read statistics like, “Only 7.1 percent of our plastic waste was recycled in 2008, according to the latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Photo taken by John Makely, courtesy of

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in re-USING that I forget about recycling.  Statistics like the above from a recent article written by Allison Linn of show that we all have a long way to go when it comes to recycling.  The bummer about plastic is that it is not biodegradable and when it does finally start to whither into the earth nasty chemicals get released into the air.  So, it not only takes up space, it changes the environment for the worse.

A really huge example of how non-biodegradable and obtrusive plastic can be is to take a look at this video of the plastic mass that is currently floating in the Earth’s oceans.  It is so big it has a name, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Read this article for more information on that mass of plastic waste.

Plastics not getting recycled is most likely due to many things.  People don’t realize that the plastic they are finished using is, in fact, recyclable.  And, according to the article, “Many Americans simply don’t have a convenient way do it. About 40 percent of the U.S. population has no access to curbside recycling programs, according to the EPA, and even among those with curbside recycling not all programs accept all types of plastics.”  I think some people don’t think about, other people don’t care, and other people are lazy.

So, what is the next step?

Well, first things first, if you live in an area that does not have a recycling program, start one! Here is a great article I found on about starting your own community recycling program from scratch.

Don’t get discouraged.  I hate when I see someone throw something in the garbage I know to be recyclable.  But, I still believe that one person can make a difference.  And, I also believe that there is a domino effect that can occur in a community.  I am not telling you to go out on the street and shove environmental propaganda down people’s throats.  I operate in a bit of a different fashion.  As Ghandi is quoted as saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  So, concentrate on being the best plastics recycler you can be.

Educate your mind on the different types of plastic.  The article I referred to earlier breaks it down a bit, so read it!  Buy products from companies that use less packing.  Vote at the register, I like to say.  I still believe that you can make a difference by what you choose to purchase.  REUSE those plastics as many times as you possibly can.  Upcycle them too, if you feel like being creative.  And, then, after all that, put em in the recycling bin.

We have a ways to go, but I believe that we are moving forward, inch by inch, day by day.


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