Friday, October 9, 2015

The Friday Videos and Another Look at Recycling - Especially Plastics

This past Monday I posted about a John Tierney piece that made the front page of the New York Times Review section on Sunday. Tierney was arguing that some things just aren't worth recycling because, doing so, doesn't significantly reduce the carbon footprint of that item. Besides, he argues, we have plenty of open space. Can you imagine that, rather than preserving the land around our Franklins, we just bury more trash and garbage? Natural open space isn't there to become a garbage dump even if we fail to enforce anti-dumping laws in our desert.

I digress. Tierney's piece does indeed raise questions. It also has gotten some rebuttals. 

Grist responded today with a list of objections to Tierney's points. Do read Is recycling as awful as the New York Times claims? Not remotely. Grist's rebuttal is short, sweet and organized.

A longer and more informative response was published by the Natural Resources Defense Council: Too Good To Throw Away Recycling's Proven Record.

I seriously question Tierney's argument that "[r]ecycling one ton of plastic saves only slightly more than one ton of carbon dioxide." Plastic is derived from petroleum and gas. Now there is a carbon footprint. Recycle - sure. Reuse - you bet. Still that doesn't quite cut it. Reducing or eliminating the use of plastic is the best bet. There are a variety of products that are banned because they are deliterious to the health, welfare and safety of all of us. Without a doubt, plastic bags and plastic bottles, and bottled water damage our environment, kill wildlife and aren't good for us. 

The video above extols recycling plastic bottles which, of course, is far better than burying them in a landfill or simply disposing of them into the open environment. Certainly reusing/repurposing the plastic is the way to go. Realistically, the items created from used plastic will someday be part of that landfill and contribute to the leachate. Again, better not to have plastic sacks and bottles.

Plastics, as Ben Braddock is advised in the 1967 film, The Graduate, is the way of the future. One of my uncles was the Vice-President of Douglas Aircraft. I can remember his giving my parents a set of round, plastic coasters - a promotional product showing off the light weight material soon to be used on their airplanes.

Today we are swamped by plastics. Just about everything that we can buy is plastic or comes in plastic or in layers of plastic or even has micro-plastics in the ingredients. I don't know about you, but I have been deliberately buying less things in plastic which makes me search online for some good diy recipes for personal products. (There are many, many of them with all natural ingredients.)

Recycling and reusing plastics is a good thing. But greatly reducing the amount of plastics in our culture is ultimately the only way to go.

One last video:

What habits can you change to make your life less plastic?


  1. Great videos! let's change our plastic habit!
    remember this one too:

  2. I've never had much faith in recycling, of course it'll eventually end up in landfills. At this point we must REDUCE and avoid plastics as much as possible. At home, we are proud to produce very little waste but more can always be done. I love that in Sante Fe they charge you for using paper or plastic. Since Sante Fe has implemented a no-plastic bag policy, they've seen a huge improvement on the landfills. So how about a Zero Waste Grocery store where the old SunHarvest used to be? :) It'd be interesting to see how El Paso would take to zero waste living.