My reusable hemp tea-bag filled with yummy organic fair trade tea in a handmade ceramic mug... on handmade cloth table settings... lol I am a geek
Cue recycling. How awesome does it make you feel, you're preventing plastics and paper from going to the landfill! I used to feel like an environmental superhero- I was recycling paper, plastic and glass and composting. Buying more plastic was fine, since I tried to only buy what was recyclable here in Halifax (#1,2 only...). Until I read what Beth had to say over at Fake Plastic Fish. Here's a quick synopsis of why recycling isn't enough:
1. Plastic is forever, literally. All plastic ever created (bar what was burned) still exists today on Earth. A large bunch of that plastic is floating in the pacific garbage patch (a ginormous plastic blob in the middle of the ocean). A huge percentage has broken down into tiny plastic beads called "nurdles" that are being ingested by fish and other organisms in the ocean...subsequently killing them. Creating virgin or new plastic requires toxic and carbon emitting petrochemicals. For a fantastic account of Alan Weisman's (A World Without Us author) experience read "Polymer's Are Forever".
2. Most plastic containers and products are made from virgin plastic. So by buying that plastic yogurt container you're essentially supporting a new "forever" plastic into our world.
3. Most of recycled plastics are made into non-recyclable objects such as patio furniture, car bumpers etc. So although they don't go immediately to the landfill, after their use as plastic furniture they are no longer recyclable... and end up there anyway.
4. Recycling is downgrading... and with each process the plastic is less stable and less "usable" or marketable. Essentially, most of what you buy is adding to the amount of plastic in our world, recycling it just puts off the inevitable.
5. Recycling companies ship their plastic to others countries to process. Countries that may not have as stringent health and safety policies that we do here. According to Beth's article, much of the UK's and US's plastic is shipped to China, where people are paid low wages to work in toxic conditions... sorting our plastic. Although there is no mention of Canada, where the US goes, Canada is sure to follow. Please check out the video... and see for yourself.
For further info check out Fake Plastic Fish- an awesome site and check out the Ecology Action Centre's "7 Misconceptions about Plastic Recycling".
Obviously, recycling is better than simply throwing everything into the landfill. What I came to realize, however, was that by continuing to purchase plastic and disposable items by assuming that recycling was somehow a closed loop system, I was deluding myself as to my continued contribution to waste in our world.
Now is the time to begin changing the way we view our lives and making those changes to separate ourselves from a non-attached lifestyle. In this one area, the yogic concept of non-attachment doesn't apply, I say YES to attachment. Although Non-attachment could help us purchase less, we do still need to recognize the importance of what we have.
Even simple things like disposable tea-bags, disposable j-cloths, swiffer mops, paper towel, food in plastic containers (i.e. rice, yogurt, juice) or getting your coffee in a cup. We need to view our lives as a process to be cherished, with a commitment to take a few extra minutes for something reusable.
Small steps are the way to go, and I have to admit this whole "reduce" concept was HARD. We were paper towel buyers (recycled content though!), and ziploc bags and containers... non-bulk food people.
We have now officially moved to glass containers, no paper towel or napkins, reusable dishcloths and buying rice/flour/granola stuff in bulk (in my awesome lioli bags). I have a reusable hemp tea bag and have started to buy fair trade bulk tea leaves. We still have far to go, but it seems realistic now, doable. All of a sudden, recycling doesn't make me feel good anymore. Reusing does.
The next few posts will tackle a few of the steps we've taken- paper towel, plastic containers with a few that we're still trying to make (with a quick post on how to reduce waste during Yule...).
article and photo copyright of EcoYogini @ ecoyogini.blogspot.com