Saturday, November 11, 2006

Recycle Awareness Week in Oregon

To commerate Oregon recently naming November 11-18 Recycling Awareness Week, I present this article:

I am an avid recycler, and in this age of recycling you would think that everything we buy would be recyclable. Yet the grocery shelves are lined with items that are destined for the land fill. Even making the effort to purchase things in containers that can be recycled; you still find a lot of stuff that will be trash in the end. Inner seals, plastic lids, inner plastic lining, non corrugated cardboard…

More things are being recycled these days, batteries for one. I don’t know of any place locally, but I have a friend take my depleted batteries to Corvallis where they are recycled.

Why isn’t clothing recyclable? Sure I know you can donate old clothing to several places that resell them, and stuff like old socks do well as a shop rag, but what happened when you have too many old undershirts and socks and really have no need for that many shop rags. In the old days there was the rag man. We had one in my home town. He actually had a horse drawn cart with tin cans on it that would jangle as he came down the road. People would come out of their houses with rags and junk, and he would haul it all away and resell it. The junk would be scrap metal and the rags would go to the paper mill.

Do we no longer recycle clothing because all of the plastic content? Back in the 50’s there was pretty much cotton, wool or leather, all recyclable for some purpose.

Maybe it is too radical an idea, but what if manufacturers had to make their packaging from totally recyclable materials and make sure they could be recycled again when you were finished with them? And shippers, stop using Styrofoam peanuts. At least use the ones that decompose in water (they’re actually edible as well, but they don’t taste very good.)

Recycling is still a bit of a pain in the ass. Sure there is curb-side pick up, and you can now mix newspapers with magazines, but it is odd that I have to recycle plastic grocery bags at the grocery store, and all else at the transfer station. If I purchased all this stuff from a grocer, I should be able to recycle all of it at the store that sold it to me in the first place. Sure the store would be annoyed by this just as they are annoyed by deposit bottle returns, but maybe grocers then would have some power behind what they choose to sell and not to sell. Manufacturers and packagers would have to start thinking responsibly about packaging before pushing all this crap on us that ends up in our land fills.

Here’s a story from the archive if you want more info on this topic NIMBY.


Blogger Rich said...

Are you familiar with the North Pacific subtropical gyre? It's where much of the plastic trash that doesn't make it to the landfill ends up:

12:28 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Its not all about biodegradability also.
What about all of the knuckle heads that rake and bag leaves and haul to the dump every year?
Under our kitchen sink we have a small garbage pail with a lid.
Coffee grounds, egg shells, orange peels, pommagranate skins, carrot shavings,potato skins, etc.....
go in this.
When it goes to the compost pile, it weighs about 20 pounds.
I'll bet that most knuckle heads send this stuff to the dump.
What a shame.

12:52 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Great article, Rich. There is a cute documentary called Flip Flotsome. It's about all the flip flops that get washed out to sea and end up on this beach near Madagaskar (SP) and the people pick them up and make stuff out of them.

I also saw that map in the article. I had some friends with a sailboat who were in the circle where all this stuff collects. They said that there are probably millions of glass balls floating out there, just spinning around.

Gearhead, you eat pommagranates? Damn! : ) But we do the same, a five gallon pale under the sink, and take it out mix it with grass clippings and manure and throw it in the garden once it's composted.

We used to have a worm bin as well. That was really cool, but the wet winters brought an end to that. I want to do it again when I have time and build the box on a high spot with good drainage.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to be an avid recycler. I'm slowly working that way.
I buy most of my clothes used. Saves bunches of money. I have bought most of my kitchen ware at garage sales (the best of the best)
My furniture has been handed down from family and also garage sales.
I do spend my money on a NEW bed and shoes.
I go the dump 4 times a year, I am working on less.
Best wishes

5:26 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

I did 4 times last year, and I'm shooting to cut that in half this year. I last went on September 5th and I only have 4 small bags filled so far. I'll report the next time I go. Hey we can have a contest!

10:31 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

We cut our garbage service on Oct 1 2005 and started filling a pickup bed trailer with a canopy.
Have not gone since. :-;

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, I left a lengthy comment on this matter, on JAGGY'S blog.

This is your brain with kids...

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, here's something that totally gets me riled up.

Yes, we moved from California, I know that immediately invalidates much of what we have to say BUT I will say that the recycling program where we came from was vastly better than this scam here.

First of all, we had a green waste lot. The city put a chain link fence around a lot in an area nobody would call "high-ticket", people brought in their truckloads of green waste and dumped it for free. The city chipped it up and spread it elsewhere. No bags were allowed to be left or any other type of trash. Here, on my old rental lot I had to put the stuff into the trash. I felt awful. Here, at the new place, I can find a place to compost.

The cans/bottles situation? Could they make it any more difficult? First of all, if you want to turn in an aluminum can, it has to have the OR mark on it, or just put it in the trash or save it to take back Washington. WHAT? In my old area, you went to the recycle yard, which was staffed by paid people who were basically from the Goodwill-type program. You got a wire basket for each type of recyclable, separated them, they were weighed and you got your money right there. No sorting out the Big K bottles because you were at Safeway.

And even if you do have Safeway bottles, half the time the machine is full or it won't recognize the container, so you buzz help and wait your 20 minutes until they come to "shake down" the recepticle, or empty it, or count out your containers that the machine won't take.

We also buy almost everything used here. We donate everything that is resalable, too.

There are places on the Internet that can help you find places to donate clothing. Jeans, I know, are often broken back down and used for other things. Denim is totally recyclable. I imagine most kind of cotton is.

2:50 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Jaggy is probably wondering to herself, "WTF?"

Your comment was worth tracking down.
I better go check other blogs to see if I have any messages waiting. ; )

3:21 PM  
Blogger knappster said...

I don't have the data readily available, but I suspect that one holiday airplane flight to the Midwest or East Coast consumes more energy than the savings from a year of recycling by one person.  And there's also those thousands of miles that most people put on their motor vehicle odometer.

Reycling is for do-gooders who want to feel good about themselves and their consumption.

1:29 AM  
Blogger Carl said...

Oregon needs to fix or trash the bottle bill

Oregon’s Bottle bill has become the laughing stock of the recycling industry. Back in 1993 when (out of necessity) I started recycling cardboard in California, the paper recycler told me that California was thinking of going the way of Oregon, he stated that funny thing was that Oregon and Michigan were the laughing stocks of the industry and that if California went the way of Oregon, they would pull out, even though they did not even handle cans or bottles. Problem is Oregon’s system pushes out private recyclers (outside of the companies that make the good for nothing redemption machines). Vastly more people are employed by California’s system which also pays scrap value and allows recyclers to profitably pay for paper and other items that here in Grants Pass are useless. Also there is not the dangerous contamination of dirty cans being placed in shopping carts or handled by store clerks.

Oregon either needs a system like California or pure free enterprise, and to stop the arrogance of Oregon leaders who cannot see past all the problems we have with this dirty, wretched, anti free enterprise system here in Oregon.
Proponents have told me that Oregon pays more than California; NOT TRUE! Do to the free enterprise system at work in California a $.035 can can be worth as much as $.12 after scrap value is added (I am referring to a large beer can here). Also you can smash the cans and plastic, and due to the profitability, you can often bring in paper and cardboard too, as the California system makes profitable for the recyclers to do so. As of this post cans are worth $1.45 per lb. and newspaper is worth $.04 per lb (it adds up fast too).

By Carl Strohmeyer

4:06 PM  

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