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Truths in Recycling

I was having a conversation with someone the other day on recycling, and asked if they currently do.  I was taken back a bit by her response.

She said to me, “Why no, I do not, but here’s why.”  She proceeded to tell me about a time a friend of her’s was taking his trash and recycling to the local landfill, when he spotted something odd.  He was sitting in his car, waiting his turn, when out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a recycling truck.  The truck was actually dumping a load of recyclables to be mixed in with the trash!

He wasn’t sure why that was occuring, but since then, he decided that he will not recycle again. His theory is that if he saw this happen in the local county landfill, then how is he to know how much of his recycling will actually make it to processing.

This had me doing some research.  How much of our recycling actually gets recycled?

I saw a recent article about changes in the way our recycling is processed and who handles it.  In the U.S. and other countries, we outsource our recycling to China, who has processed it in the past.  China not only processes it for the U.S., but also for countries such as England and Australia, but has now left over 70% of our recycling with no place to go.  China has decided that they will no longer accept foreign waste to be processed, which means that the U.S. and other countries will have to find a way to process them domestically.  England has already begun the process of incineration without leaking toxic emissions, while the some in the U.S. have decided to just throw out the recycling with the trash, as some communities are cancelling their recycling efforts.

(to view article, click here)

This is scary folks.

So how can we be proactive?

First of all, if your community still allows, DO NOT STOP RECYCLING. While we are undergoing this change, we still cannot give up. We cannot assume that something won’t be done, or that we are no longer contributing to help the environment, we are still making an impact (even if it’s a small one), as well as showing that we can become a self sustaining country.  Remeber, raindrops create puddles, which create streams, which create ponds and lakes, which create rivers, which lead to create oceans.


The only way that we will be able to effectively slow down our environmental doom, is to re-write our methods.  We have become such a wasteful people.  Corporations have made it so convenient for us to come in to businesses, use their cups, bowls, plates, bags, paper boxes, etc. and then simply throw them away.

I was once told at a well-known establishment that they will not recycle, because the process is just “too expensive, and there is low demand from the public.”  How have we made it to this point?  Let’s back track and think about this for a second.

Grocery stores give us plastic bags to wrap our produce and store our purchases, restaurants give us plastic containers for our to go orders and plastic straws for our drinks sometimes when we don’t even ask for them, we get coffee in the morning at places that offer reusable cups and we even can spend over $30 just on one.  What do we do?  We pick up that plastic bag, or paper cup, and we keep on moving about our day.

Trust me, I get that recycling isn’t top of mind.  I get that it can take a lot to change habits and remember to bring reusables, but trust me on this.  It only takes 3 weeks for something to become a habit.  Once you start, it becomes easier to remember to bring that cloth bag, and easier to ask for no straw in your drink.

When you realize that you are that small raindrop in the puddle, or that puddle in the pond, or that lake in the ocean, it will become more clear how much of an impact you can actually make.


I would love to hear your feedback!  Please drop a comment below. 





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