Recycling In Your Home?
Is recycling in your home really worth it anymore?
Today I am going in a bit of a different direction for my blog because the neighborhood I live in has been having a war in the recycling world. So, for ASK THE DESIGNER, “Is recycling in your home really worth it anymore?” What is the real truth behind recycling? I am sure this is not going to be a very popular post, but honestly after the past few eye-opening months I do not think I care! I am a truth seeker these days, not just a fluff maker! So compared to other bloggers this maybe a very unpopular opinion, LOL!
I ended up having to do a fair amount of research today while dealing with an awful and unsightly trash pick-up issue at our neighborhood’s lovely amenities. It all started with our waste management services not picking up our garbage at our amenities, which have been getting constantly overloaded during the pool, and tennis season as our very large and active community enjoys the summer months. We also have sadly had an issue with illegal dumping as well, but that is another issue all together and being handled with license plate readers and local authorities, so smile we now know who you are!While helping out our HOA board, I decided to do a little research on securing rates for a commercial dumpster along with the codes and requirements to install and pick up. I also pursued negotiations for the entire neighborhood in regard to a contract for the waste/recycle pick as well for the residents, so we all could get better rates all the way around, if need be. (It is not like we want to move our contract, but we cannot have this public health hazard either, so it is better to be prepared in negotiations and know your facts.) This is when my eyes were opened to the recycling process or lack thereof at this point.I was told that most companies are not actually taking your recycling to the recycling centers anymore, by several companies I spoke too. I was told that less than 2% of the trucks actually go, because the majority of the truck loads are contaminated. What does that mean? Well pizza boxes or plastic berry crates, those are not recyclable; did you know that? I did not and I have been putting them in my container every week, which is actually what the companies call “wishful recycling”. Yes, it actually has a name in the industry! So, I am actually a part of the problem, mind blown! How about yogurt cups, nope; or plastic bags? NOPE! Yes, even though these items carry those recycle symbols they will contaminate the entire truck, sending it to the landfill. Really only #1, #2 & #5 are truly recyclable. Below is a list of what is accepted at our local Alpharetta recycling center:I was basically told that it is now too costly to drive a truck to the recycle center to dump the truck, then as they sort through, if they find these items they have to reload the truck, and then they get charged a surcharge and have to haul it back to the landfill. Which is why it ALL just goes to a landfill to begin with and is not even going to a recycling center at all. Which means you are paying for a special can, are doing more work by rinsing and crushing, and it doesn’t even go to the recycling center anyways. Believe me my mind was blown!
I have always wanted to be green or eco friendly, we bought into a neighborhood with those things in place for that reason. I grew up always being aware of these things and trying to do better. As a kid I remember taking our glass bottles back to the grocery store and turning them in, and recycling aluminum cans with daddy. These days we are still going through the motions, but our work still just goes into the landfill. Why?
China quite buying all of our plastic from our recycling back in 2019, so we have not been making any money on our recycling. I recently watched the Netflix series online Broken: Recycling Sham which was so informative. I have found a few articles that support this which are interesting reads for more knowledge here:
- Where Will Your Plastic Trash Go Now That China Doesn’t Want It?
Personally, I am devastated that this is where we are; the mindset of, if we can’t sell our garbage then who cares. This seems like such a cop out, and there should really be a better answer out there. Like garbage islands, why don’t we actually build islands out of them? You mix the Great Pacific Garbage Patches and get some really smart marine biologist and figure out how to take these items that clearly never biodegrade and engineer them into new land spaces, I don’t know but it seems like you could just coat them in magma or lava since this is how Hawaii was made, but I am sure that is just too easy.
Other thoughts I had is if we cannot afford to pay pennies on the dollar to sort the recyclables, as they did in China, why not use our prisoners as workers that we are already using federal and local state dollars to house, feed and shelter; to do the sorting for us. They need a skill, we need the labor to do a job no one wants to do, sounds like a winning combination of how to serve our community with their prison time to me. Just set up local recycling centers right next to all state penitentiaries, and then the sorting is done with free labor as a work camp set up. Heck, I think they eat with plastic utensils, so that could be part of the issue?Honestly, I do not know the answer, but I did want to share my moment of learning this week, since it blew my mind. I thought I was doing good, but I was not, clearly my time has been wasted cleaning the plastics just to have them all go to the landfill anyways. I know that going forward that I will probably just be putting everything into my garbage now and paying less on my bill. I think I may just opt for double trash cans verses participating in the fakery of recycling, which is clearly not happening. I know a few of neighbors just take their own recycling to the center themselves, which maybe our new option.
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