In the early 90s, many of us had heard about barges of household refuse that were floating on the East River in New York/New Jersey. As appalling as that was, the need to recycle really only became a part of my consciousness in college, when I noticed the well intentioned militancy with which friends and siblings recycled. It became personal and recycling bins were ubiquitous. So I joined the crowd and without much thought started recycling. Over time I watched numerous documentaries on the quantities of garbage generated by people living in the U.S., the impact to the environment and the impact to other countries. I started wondering how a plastic bag or piece of hard plastic would degrade at a landfill. The obvious answer is it would not. Perhaps it would lay there for ages and then one day find itself floating out at sea where a fish could ingest it and become sick or die. Perhaps it would lay there for ages and then interact with some toxic chemicals and degrade into even more toxic chemicals that run into the ground water and poison the land and water supply. Perhaps it would lay there and over time grow into a much bigger stockpile of non-degradable plastics that would make the land even more unbearable to look at and the environment and nearby natural habitats even less hospitable. Blah Blah…Blah. I could go on but I found a simple solution for myself.
1. Generate less trash. Visit farmer’s markets where I can get fresh local food that is not packaged. Refuse plastic bags as much as possible when shopping.
2. Recycle. Recycle cans, cartons, plastics, cardboard and styrefoam. Check the website for your city or county garbage collector to find out how to dispose of anything and everything. Dispose of electronics at places like Green Citizen.
3. Be conscious: Only throw items in the garbage that I know are biodegradable.