National Recycling Day!

Happy National Recycling Day…….wait wait?  I honestly didn’t know they even had a day designated for recycling until I came across an article this morning, but honestly I feel that this day should be used to highlight everything that is currently wrong with it instead of celebrating it.

When I first started my journey into sustainable living a year and a half ago I was very interested in what could and couldn’t be recycled.  I really wanted to learn about what the better option was when making plastic purchases and even visited Sims Municipal state of the art recycling center in NYC, which I’m not going to lie is a very impressive facility.  In doing so I was able to gain the knowledge to reduce my waste significantly, but over time my thoughts on recycling slowly changed the more that I learned about the system as a whole.

Did you know that China was the dumping ground for more than half of the world’s trash, importing 9 million metric tons of plastic scraps, but at the beginning of this year they stopped accepting it all together!  Also the U.S. alone sent over 70% of it’s waste there prior to this ban, and recent reports have found that plastic exports plummeted by 1/3 in the first half of 2018 with a staggering 280,000 metric tons of plastic not being accounted for, leading investigators to suspect it’s being incinerated or sent to a landfill.

I hate to say it but I’ve realized that recycling is not the solution, instead it’s a false hope no matter if China accepted it or not, especially in regards to plastic waste.  If you didn’t know most single use plastics are recycled into fabric because they are no longer recyclable after one use, and even more durable plastics can usually only be recycled once until they are turned into a fabric.  What’s wrong with that is the plastic fabric will continue to break apart in the wash (creating micro plastics that pollute & kill our oceans & wildlife), and at the end of it’s life most likely will be burnt releasing toxic fumes (which will pollute the ozone) or sit in a landfill for eternity & continue to break apart some more (again micro plastics).

Well if you’re still set on recycling then always choose paper, glass or aluminum packaged items over plastic, but honestly the best solution is buying products without any packaging in the bulk bins or lose produce.  In the end I feel the main solution for all of this is to change our thinking & the model all together from a single-use to a circular economy with ore focus on  reduce, refuse, reuse, rethink, and repair rather than just the recycle.

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