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Thread: Why I Donít Recycle

  1. #21
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    You have any *helpful* feedback UL?

    I did read and think about williamsmith’s Links.

    also, while i’m here - plastic bottles - one thing that has helped me feel like I have made a change in my impact is that I will no longer drink bottled water (or coffee made from bottled water, which was a sad change for me at the food bank) unless I am actually dehydrated and it is my only choice - and I work to avoid that situation.

  2. #22
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    Cl, when we lived in the country and did not have trash pickup, we followed most of what you say here--and in fact, the habits carried over so that we do all these things to, as a better way of living on our little piece of the earth.
    Thanks for your good thoughtful synopsis.
    We also use cardboard to line garden beds and start new beds.
    I have also added Bae's suggestion to this and when I get Amazon boxes, use the give back box to purge items from the house to give to Goodwill.

  3. #23
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    williamsmith, I also wanted to add that when I was first married, we lived in a condo, and once was enough--could not get out of there fast enough. You could title this thread "Why I don't Live in a Condo", too!

  4. #24
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    As much as I like Costco, I'm dismayed at the packaging of some of their products. DH loves the "simmer in bag" lamb shanks for instance, but they are sold in a plastic bag, placed in a thick plastic tray, covered in a paper sleeve, and then the whole thing is shrink-wrapped in plastic. I tried saving those trays for storing leftovers, but how many do you need?

    If I were to get serious about my consumption of recyclables, I'd have to sacrifice some really good, easy dinner options that we've grown accustomed to. Convenience always has a price.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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  5. #25
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    As a struggling minimalist and a seeker of simple living, I have to look in the mirror at times and then look at facts and change my behavior. Sorting fact from fiction is my challenge because due to my vocation .....fact is a necessarily high bar to meet.

    In my research it appears that the fact is, many people are misguided in their attempts to recycle everything and may actually be making things worse rather than better. This morning I took two plastic bottles to the gym with me. One with water, one with vitamin water zero. Both bottles will be sitting in a landfill within two weeks. The water bottle claims to be recyclable and has that nifty triangle with arrows going in a circle. That triangle tends to make a person feel better about tossing it in the recyclable bin but the cap and the label are not recyclable.

    The vitamin zero water also has the triangle and funny enough this, “Cuddle time is over, rise and shine!” I’ve never noticed that. Now in my neighborhood in order for those bottles to get back on the shelf as another product....a myriad of things have to happen. I have to collect them, strip the label off and remove the cap. Most people don’t do that. I have to transport them in a gas driven car to a single stream collection location possibly 10-20 miles away. A diesel powered truck with a driver have to take the bottles at the collection site to a sorting site.....50 miles away. Sorters have to go through the stuff on a conveyer belt .......I mean think of all the energy that is needed to even make it happen.

    So thta brings me to my consumption. As an entry level minimalist I focused on the things I possessed. What could I rid myself of maintaining, what didn’t I need. But what about the things that simply pass through your hands?

  6. #26
    Senior Member gimmethesimplelife's Avatar
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    Recycling. Oh wow! This topic brings to mind myself at a much younger age - 24 - fresh out of college and having just moved to Portland, Oregon, back in the day before it was so expensive (1991). Everyone I ran across there was really into recycling and I became this way, too - not just because of the environment but because I was in the midst of a population with a sane cost of living and somewhat reasonable wages with a much higher percentage of the population not living in terror of being on the streets should they become ill (due to a higher percentage of the population having health insurance than in Arizona).

    I took recycling to heart as a badge of living somewhere with a much higher quality of life than I was used to. To me recycling approached a moral obligation to justify living somewhere that at the time was a much better deal than what I was used to. It was as if recycling approached voting for me - in the sense of if you don't vote you should not complain - but in the case of recycling - if you don't recycle, you have not earned the right to live in Portland.

    Well, flash forward to all these years later and I would not live in Portland now - it's too expensive and I believe that high cost of living locations tend to bring out some of the worst qualities human beings have to offer. So Portland is off the table for me, breathtakingly beautiful though it is. But I still recycle and it's something I believe is just the right thing to do - but this recent decision by China to not take our recyclables really depresses me. Where are our recyclables going to go now and is this it for the whole concept? And if plastics are not taken - great - they take forever to break down in landfills. Just great.

    Amazingly enough here in Phoenix all plastics are still being taken for curbside recycling, but I question both for how much longer and I question too at this point - will they even find new lives or will they end out in a landfill now? Recycling once seemed to me almost pure in nature, now like almost everything else, it seems fraught with issues and complications. Rob

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Williamsmith View Post
    As a struggling minimalist and a seeker of simple living, I have to look in the mirror at times and then look at facts and change my behavior. Sorting fact from fiction is my challenge because due to my vocation .....fact is a necessarily high bar to meet.

    In my research it appears that the fact is, many people are misguided in their attempts to recycle everything and may actually be making things worse rather than better. This morning I took two plastic bottles to the gym with me. One with water, one with vitamin water zero. Both bottles will be sitting in a landfill within two weeks. The water bottle claims to be recyclable and has that nifty triangle with arrows going in a circle. That triangle tends to make a person feel better about tossing it in the recyclable bin but the cap and the label are not recyclable.

    The vitamin zero water also has the triangle and funny enough this, “Cuddle time is over, rise and shine!” I’ve never noticed that. Now in my neighborhood in order for those bottles to get back on the shelf as another product....a myriad of things have to happen. I have to collect them, strip the label off and remove the cap. Most people don’t do that. I have to transport them in a gas driven car to a single stream collection location possibly 10-20 miles away. A diesel powered truck with a driver have to take the bottles at the collection site to a sorting site.....50 miles away. Sorters have to go through the stuff on a conveyer belt .......I mean think of all the energy that is needed to even make it happen.

    So thta brings me to my consumption. As an entry level minimalist I focused on the things I possessed. What could I rid myself of maintaining, what didn’t I need. But what about the things that simply pass through your hands?
    I think this is actually Chicken Lady's position, and always has been. If you read through her posts about trash and recycling, she has a heightened awareness of this and is very careful to avoid taking trash in. It is an admirable way to behave, as a steward of the earth, in my opinion.

  8. #28
    Senior Member Rogar's Avatar
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    I have a friend who has got through a few phases of "zero landfill waste", and I recall a women on the forums that I think was trying that challenge. Some of it obviously involves recycling and probably some composting, but at least for my friend there were also a lot of purchasing choices, like buying bulk and reusing things and probably avoiding some purchases. I don't know if it's common, but I always rinse out my zip locks and reuse them. He even said he reused parchment paper. (I do suspect he snuck a bag into his neighbors waste once in a while.) It seems slightly extreme to me, but i can see less total waste as a better ambition than maximizing recycling.

    My former employer has also taken a "zero landfill waste" pledge. There are probably some conundrums with personal recycling, but in volume for a big company it is probably at least a break even proposition?

    I suspect there will always be a recycling market for most metals and probably glass.

  9. #29
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    I recycle, but not fanatically. I'm skeptical of claims that recycling is pointless, but since I haven't made a study of the topic, I have an open mind. Sometimes the reality of things is counter-intuitive. I'm sure that most people think they're doing great things for the environment when they buy a new car because it gets good mileage, without considering the possibility that they could buy a 10-year-old Toyota that would get the same mileage without the added carbon footprint of building a new car.

    What people mainly need to do it consume less, period, and I fully support legislation and even peer pressure that encourages that. Passing a law that would put a dollar deposit on all plastic bottles would do more good for the environment that any one person could do in 10,000 lifetimes of recycling. You'd see precious few empty plastic bottles by the side of the road if that were the case.

  10. #30
    Senior Member Williamsmith's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldhat View Post
    I recycle, but not fanatically. I'm skeptical of claims that recycling is pointless, but since I haven't made a study of the topic, I have an open mind. Sometimes the reality of things is counter-intuitive. I'm sure that most people think they're doing great things for the environment when they buy a new car because it gets good mileage, without considering the possibility that they could buy a 10-year-old Toyota that would get the same mileage without the added carbon footprint of building a new car.

    What people mainly need to do it consume less, period, and I fully support legislation and even peer pressure that encourages that. Passing a law that would put a dollar deposit on all plastic bottles would do more good for the environment that any one person could do in 10,000 lifetimes of recycling. You'd see precious few empty plastic bottles by the side of the road if that were the case.
    Dont you view legislating “carbon” taxes on plastic bottles as onerous and overstepping the boundaries of public safety legislation? Wouldn’t that do what most legislation of this type does....hurt the low income population. I view peer pressure in the same light as I view trespassing on property. Wouldn’t it make more sense to spend the resources to educate people rather than impose your will on them. Didn’t we learn anything from prohibition laws and the war on drugs?

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