Well, the last EcoNet was certainly a blatant diversion from EcoMotion’s commitment to report only good news. “The Recycling Mess” is s hardly good news. Given the reader response on this one, I hit a nerve. It wasn’t a wake-up call because we all know it. The report serves instead of a confirmation that overall, recycling is really broke. Its solutions must be systemic… from ethics to policies, from regulation to universal practice. Along the way… the drumbeat of awareness and the cheers of success.
So how do we take action? In this issue I present a three-step guide for eco-action on recycling. We start local, working in our homes and communities with our existing programs… and making sure we execute them well. Do you know exactly what goes in your bin? If not, find out.
Yes, recycling is confusing and in some ways is devolving: Since writing the issue, I’ve received two recycling program flyers, one from my home town in California, the other from my mom in Oyster Bay, New York where I grew up. They’re totally different. Rick would say, “that sucks.”
Glendale’s program is rather limited, for instance only taking two kinds of plastic (1, 2). Worse, the Town of Oyster Bay program no longer takes glass. Trash the glass instructs the flyer. A nicely produced and upbeat video by the Town says that “due to import restrictions… what can and can’t be recycled has changed.”
What, no glass? After years of educating the public to pull out cans and bottles, to ditch glass seems like a travesty. Doesn’t it? Sure, consumers can still redeem some beverage bottles for deposits, but telling the citizenry to pitch the rest? This seems like a huge step back… reprogramming slovenly behavior of a first world country. We’ve got to change this.
Let’s step back. What’s the goal? Smart waste management a provides multiple benefits: It addresses limits on landfill spaces. It cuts methane emissions from the anaerobic digestion of organic materials. It provides re-use of natural resources from bauxite to glass to paper… and thus less mining and tree cutting. It pulls value from the waste stream… rendering products from wastes. It builds upon a conservation ethic that is sweeping the energy space, transportation, forest management, and food. Smart waste management is a highly visible element of the path to sustainability.
This issue features recycling solutions. There are certainly examples of successful recycling, programs at the country, city, corporate, and campus level. We report on a new national initiative called SWEEP to rate communities’ recycling programs just as buildings have been LEED certified. We present EcoMotion’s Three-Step Guide Eco- Action on Recycling. Yes, all agree that recycling in America is a mess. Now it’s up to us to fix it and when life gives you lemons… to make lemonade.