Lately, I have been thinking about recycling. In the town where I live, a town which started the first curbside recycling program in the state of Tennessee, the city is no longer accepting plastics with a grade below “2.” The reason given for this change is because the vendors who used to accept plastics with a grade of 3 or higher are no longer.
These new recycling restrictions are a reflection of China’s decision to limit the type and amount of plastic it imports. These restrictions unfortunately have impacted local businesses who specialized in recycling (Reclaimed Resources and Tri-City Waste Paper closed last month) and will increase the amount of garbage that goes into local landfills. A double whammy for sure.
This new reality really brings into focus, at least for me, how I use plastic and what policies or legislation I support.
For example, the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, recently supported a bill which stated local municipalities cannot ban the use of plastic bags. Aside from the infringement of local governments rights, Governor Lee’s decision to create a barrier which increases plastic going into our landfills is confusing. (If you agree, then contact your state representative and let him/her know. If you live in another state, check out your state’s policy.)
Holding our policy makers accountable is only one part of the solution. Another piece of the solution is being more mindful of how we use plastic. Here are some questions to sit with:
- Can I find another use for this plastic container in my home or at my work?
- Can I reduce the plastic I use in my home or at my work? (Plastic wrap, ziploc bags, plastic dishes and silverware, straws, carry out containers, plastic storage bins) What are non-plastic alternatives?
- What kind of container do the items I purchase come in? Will I write to the manufacturer asking them to consider using a non-plastic container?
These ideas may not seem like a lot but they do make a difference.
According to a study by the Great Britain Royal’s Statistic Society only 9% of plastic has been recycled. Since it takes an average of 400 years for plastic to decompose, humans are creating an unsustainable system with huge impacts for our planet.
If you have any ideas on how to decrease our use of plastic or on how to better use existing plastic, then please, let me know by sending me a comment below. I feel the need to study this situation more. I want to find a viable, healthy solution.