Do you put plastic in your recycling bin simply because it has a recycling symbol on it?
Do you put items in your bin that you’ve heard aren’t recyclable here, but wish were?
Do you put items in your bin that you know aren’t recyclable here, but hope that somewhere down the line someone will recycle them?
You’re a good person, but you’re a wishful recycler.
Let’s bust the recycling symbol myth.
Here’s the thing. The recycling symbol on plastic is just a symbol created by the plastics industry to help identify what type of plastic it is, at the start of the plastic recycling movement. But it doesn’t mean it’s actually recyclable where we live. Other recycling symbols on packaging is just the manufacturer encouraging you to recycle that product, if you can (and many times we can’t, so it’s a little green-washy). In sum, just because something has a recycling symbol on it, DOES NOT mean that it is recyclable.
Here’s why it matters.
When you put in your items that you wish were recyclable, and you hope that someone on down the line might recycle, you’re just relocating your trash and giving yourself a pat on the back for being a really good recycler. It’s called “contamination” when it’s sorted out at the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) and may cause other things to get tossed too. It also means a lower price for the recycling haulers who truck it over the mountains to the valley for recycling, thereby reducing their efficiency. There is no recycling fairy at the end of the line.
And here’s the real problem.
You recycle “almost everything” but then keep buying over packaged products, single use items and more stuff. You feel better about your actions, but don’t change them. We don’t need to recycle because it keep things out of the landfill here, we need to recycle because it provides material to make more stuff so we don’t have to extract/drill/mine/explode it out of the earth somewhere else. We see the landfill, so we think that’s the problem. The problem is in the parts of the world we don’t see.
Less Is More
So next time you’re at the store, seek out less packaged items. Don’t have it at that store? Go to a different store. Almost every store you go into has apples stacked high in bulk for you to peruse, so why bother getting the dozen apples packed at Costco because you happen to be there? I know we can do better, and I don’t think that’s wishful thinking.