Living a Greener Life Step 7: R-E-C-Y-C-L-E (Is it a scam?)

When people talk about green living, oftentimes the first image that pops into our heads is recycling. For years I’ve been taught to separate my plastic bottles, compost, cardboard, etc. from regular trash. But how effective is recycling? The more I read about the recycling industry, the more discouraged I become.

Now it’s important to distinguish between recyclable materials. Most metals, for instance, have a very high rate of recycling whereas materials like plastic are painfully low. Why is this? Metals can be melted down and reused, especially aluminum, and recycling these materials can even be lucrative. I’ve seen people make a decent amount of money bringing it their old cans, for example. Glass is another materials with a relatively high recycle rate, but the industry is still lacking in organization and distribution of new materials.

Unfortunately, the costs to recycle materials is a major deterrent for people. It’s currently cheaper to just throw stuff away and let it rot in a landfill. Plastic bottles rarely get recycled and made into new items. The integrity of single-use plastics breaks down in the process and so far, there’s been no great gains in the plastic recycling industry. There have been a few pop ups trying to fix this problem, such as Precious Plastics, but for the most part, nothing is done with all that plastic that’s sent to the recycling center.

I want to offer solutions to this problem. It’s my dream to own my own upcycling business and come up with clever ways to repurpose and reuse old materials. I’m realistic about this goal, however. There’s a reason nobody’s heard of a rich upcycler. I’m determined, nonetheless, to do my best to come up with interesting ways to break down old materials and reuse them. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is lower our rate of consumption by switching to reusable items and avoiding single-use plastics.

Resources:

https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/897692090/how-big-oil-misled-the-public-into-believing-plastic-would-be-recycled

https://lastobject.com/blogs/sustainability-101/is-recycling-a-scam

https://www.epa.gov/recycle/recycling-basics

Published by That Hippie Looking Chick

I'm a traveler, adventurer, upcycler, and bus dweller.

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