Recycling is last resort
You may not know that these are listed in the order of importance, i.e. the best thing you can do for the planet is to reduce the amount you purchase. The second most important is to reuse what you buy. And coming in third is recycle.
Why is recycling listed last?
Because in most cases recycling takes energy—turning plastic bottles into fabric isn’t done by leprechauns using solar power I’m afraid. And once products are made anew, they need to be boxed (often wrapped in plastic or newly minted cardboard), shipped etc.
Don’t get me wrong. Recycling is a good thing and we encourage everyone to think “recycle,” not toss.
But unfortunately it’s up to us consumers (for the most part) to try to keep plastic bags, bottles, utensils, paper bags, newspapers, clothing, shoes, etc.out of landfills or ending up in the oceans.
Yet in many parts of the country recycling is minimal if it exists at all.
So many companies that make products that potentially can be recycled, enthusiastically encourage us to do it, (like today, America Recycles Day), but take little or no responsibility for it themselves.
(There are exceptions of course, FLOR, maker of carpet squares, for example.)
Until many more companies take that step, we encourage you, before purchasing anything new, to think REDUCE then REUSE, then RECYCLE not only for the item itself, but for its packaging.
And since today is America’s Recycles Day, I can think of no better way to celebrate than to write to companies that should be taking back their products to be recycled, but don’t. (For ideas on who to write, check out the America Recycles Day partners like Glad, Johnson & Johnson and Pepsico.)
For places to recycle just about everything that can be recycled, check out www.Earth911.com.
Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, and founders of Green Halloween®.