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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Friday, March 27, 2009

This Makes Me Crazy

Did you know there is a giant flotilla of plastic gathering in an area of the Pacific known as the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre? Some say it is as big as Quebec, others fear it is much larger. The mass of plastic junk floats out of sight, just below the surface of the ocean. This collection of plastic trash that doesn't sink is disheartening.

It makes me crazy that everything comes packaged in plastic: detergent, milk, peanut butter, soda bottles, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, water bottles, dish soap, lotion, shampoo, and the list goes on and on. Even juice cartons have plastic caps and pour spouts. And then there is the vexing clear plastic theft-proof packaging that displays action figures, electronic accessories, toys, and even the weather radio that we just purchased.

We are told to be good citizens and recycle this plastic. Except that there is no economic demand for recycled plastics, for it cannot be used by manufacturers as readily as virgin plastic. We recently toured a recycling center and were told that there is no one globally that is accepting plastics for recycling.

This makes me crazy. Plastic is a wonderful thing. I love my plastic dishes, plastic MacBook, plastic radio, plastic school desks, plastic markers, plastic molding in the car, my son's plastic "Coupe car," and other plastic items. I merely resent the plastic packaging that has only a very temporary purpose.

Can't we just go back to using glass or cardboard? I'd haul my empty glass bottles back for a deposit, or drop them in a glass recycling bin. Wouldn't you?
Photo by Amy M. Edwards, taken at a local recycling sorting facility.


Jennifer said...

Wow, thanks for posting this. I hadn't read that article before.

I would be SO happy to go to some alternative also.

What drives me insane in Alaska is the total lack of recycling. When we lived in California, we had separate bins for everything and they would pick it up every week.

Here - NOTHING. Seriously. Even at the transfer points where we dump off our trash, there is no recycling section (I think only a small bin for batteries). Isn't that insane??

The thought of that much plastic just floating around in the ocean sickens me.

Mrs. Edwards said...

Recycling isn't mandatory here, either, but according to the recycling center even in California and other places, the plastic recyclers are not recycling because there is no one to purchase the recycled plastic from them (no customers). Until this changes (it is partly because of the downturn) the admonition to recycle plastic is pretty much a sham.

Billy Jones said...

Sadly, far too few places are able to profit from the recycling of plastics but the industry is gearing up as energy and oil won't always be as cheap as they are today.

That said, there are a few places who buy post-consumer plastics and some of them can be found by using the local recyclers search at

Thank you for trying to do your part.

Sharon said...

We have three large bins here. One is for non-recyclables, one for recyclables, and the other for garden waste (it is mulched by the local council I think). We often fill up our recycling bin well before the fortnightly collection day with paper products, plastics, glass and cans which is what they accept to recycle here. We are also composting food scraps again now, ready for a new vegie plot next growing season. But our rubbish bin is usually almost full as well, and I have to admit a lot of things get put there that probably should be recycled (mostly used+re-used paper from the office; we have our recycling box in the kitchen, so things used at the dinner table tend to get recycled a lot better). You have made me think we should get another recycling box for our study as well as the box of "used on one side" paper we keep out for the kids to use.

I feel a bit silly asking, but do you know, from your trip to the re-cycling factory, perhaps, if you can recycle tissues, paper towels and in particular disposable nappy wipes? They are kind of like paper, but kind of not, and I am never quite sure. It is like with pizza boxes, I think the material is almost certainly recyclable, but the food scraps et al that accompany it certainly aren't. We go through these by the bucket load. Maybe our family should just use handkerchiefs and hand flannels and do more washing! (Although now that we aren't piping our grey water out to our front yard, due to the house block slope here, I feel a lot worse about the huge amount of washing we do as well. At least we have a bore here. (At least, I think that's a good thing, I'm never quite sure when it comes to the environment.)

SugarFish, in my "friends who blog" list, is very anti-plastics for everything, not just packaging. She hasn't posted much recently, but you might get some good ideas from her older posts.

~ Sharon

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