The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Where plastic recyclables really go

Bandaid on the earthFor the last two months, Mark's been inventing a pretty cool chicken waterer.  (More on that in a couple of weeks.)  Since I was raised on the mantra "reduce, reuse, recycle", I wanted to make the main portion of the waterers out of reused plastic containers.  This worked great in the planning stages, with leftover dish detergent and squeeze honey bottles which we'd squirreled away in the barn making great test models.

But as the time nears for us to introduce Mark's waterer to the general public, we realized that we needed a larger and more consistent source of plastic bottles.  "Let's call the closest recycling centers and ask if we can pick through their plastic and take some bottles home," I suggested.

RecyclingSo Mark called...and called...and called.  Strangely enough, all six recycling centers within a 50 mile radius didn't recycle plastic.  I wandered online and soon learned that plastic recycling is largely a myth.  Since there are so many kinds of plastics (all of which have to be hand sorted) and so little demand for recycled plastic resin, very little plastic is actually recycled in the U.S.  Instead, most of those bins of carefully sorted plastic bottles end up in the landfill or the incinerator.

More and more, recycling has begun to feel like a green bandaid stuck over our eyes, a way to keep us from feeling guilty as we consume our earth into destruction.  So, in the vein of the Crunchy Domestic Goddess's Ditch the Disposables Challenge, I've listed below the disposables I've already ditched or want to try to ditch in the foreseeable future.  I highly recommend you play along at home!

Out with the old disposables
In with the new reusables
Plastic water bottles
Metal or safe plastic water bottles
Plastic grocery bags
Cloth grocery bags
Disposable sanitary pads
Cloth sanitary pads
Paper napkins and towels
Cloth napkins and towels
Plastic storage and sandwich bags
Reusable containers
Swiffer
Broom and mop
Endless plastic food packaging
Buying in bulk or fresh

Don't give in to the green-washing!  Reduce and reuse before you salve your conscience with eco-friendly disposables and recycling!


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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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