Posted in charities, civility, consumerism, Economics, Economy, Environment, health, Homelessness, humanity, politics, Poverty, Recycling, unemployment, tagged homeless, Homelessness, landfills, MSU, poor, Poverty, recycling, rubbish, society, trash on May 31, 2012 |
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Last night, I stopped by Michigan State University’s state-of-the art Public Recycling Center to drop off my recyclables. While there, I happened to notice a woman was carrying a metal object with three-prongs at the end of it.
As I observed her and later a gentleman who was with her, I realized they were using this object to retrieve aluminum soda/beer cans and glass soda/beer bottles from the bins. In Michigan, you receive 10 cents for each of these when you return them to stores for recycling. Essentially they were scavenging for these 10 cent bits of “gold” to recycle at an area store and earn money. While I had seen scavengers hunt down discarded aluminum cans and glass bottles after MSU football games, this was the first time I had seen it happen at the recycling center.
Once I realized what they were up to, I offered them my 20 or so cans and bottles figuring they could use the $2.00 a lot more than I could. I also thought about the image of Americans resorting to scavenge for money and food. After a football game, some of the scavengers will ride away on their bikes with stuffed, multiple bags of empty cans and bottles. While this may be good for the environment, it is a horrible image of what the United States is becoming (or has become) – a nation composed of either enormously rich or desperately poor residents.
If some of our citizens are desperate enough to raid recycling facilities, will we soon see individuals scouring landfills, or as is found in some nations, actually living in landfills? I sure hope not, but given the shredding of the social safety net by the right-wing, I find it hard to believe it will not happen. When a society and an economic system literally treats its own citizens like rubbish, it is has hit rock bottom ethically and morally, and is hardly worth preserving in its current state of disrepair.
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Posted in art, Climate Change, Education, fun, fun friday, Recycling, tagged environment, Michigan, MSU, recycling, U of M on October 14, 2011 |
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Below is a photograph of a cool “Sparty ” outfit created entirely of recycled items by the MSU Recycling Center. No matter which school you are supporting for the big game tomorrow between Michigan and Michigan State, this is a great way to promote recycling and support MSU at the same time. Kudos to the recycling center for a great idea.
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Posted in Biking, civics, Environment, Land use, Nature, pollution, Recycling, Transportation, tagged bicycling, cycling, environment, pollution, recycling on October 5, 2011 |
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The old adage says, “what goes around comes around.” That is twice as true when you use your bicycle to recycle. Since my office’s recycling program only takes #1 and #2 plastics, I collect plastics #3-7 at my desk and then transport them to Michigan State University’s state-of-the-art Recycling Center.
MSU Public Recycling Center in East Lansing
Since this time of year I rarely use my car for commuting, yesterday I employed a new method for transporting the recyclables from the office to home – a photo is below.
It’s amazing what you can do with a plastic bag and bungee cord! My ultimate plan is to find an old milk crate and bungee cord it to the back of my bike, but this makeshift setup worked in a pinch, yesterday. For those of you lucky enough to own a cargo bike, many of them are perfectly designed for transporting items to a recycling center.
So…the next time you are headed to a recycling center, try to plan out a double-dose of environmental sustainable activities by cycling for your recycling. You’ll feel good about your efforts and Mother Nature will thank you.
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Posted in Books, Cities, consumerism, Economics, Environment, government, pollution, Recycling, tagged books, pollution, recycling, Yellow Pages on August 1, 2011 |
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Instead of your fingers doing the walking, it looks like the Yellow Pages and similar phone directories will be soon taking a hike in a community near you. Both San Francisco and Seattle have passed new laws recently limiting the distribution the Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, and other phone directories.
According to the story by Elizabeth Daigneau in the July 2011 issue of Governing magazine, in 2010:
“…San Francisco alone received 1.6 million Yellow Pages books for 800,000 residents, creating nearly 7 million pounds of waste.”
San Francisco’s new three-year pilot program, which was adopted in May limits the distribution of phone books to households that actually accept them or give prior approval to them being dropped off at the address. The city’s Director of the Department of the Environment estimates they spend $1 million a year processing phone directories through the waste system.
Seattle has taken a different approach. The city adopted an ordinance in October 2010 allowing residents to opt-out of receiving phone directories. It is estimated that Seattle spends $350,000 per year disposing of unwanted phone directories.
Given the options easily available on the internet, one finds the days of the traditional phone book waning. While there will be some market for them, they will not be the force they used to be, especially when numbers and addresses are reachable through a click of mouse, stylus, or touchpad. In addition, so many people either have unlisted numbers or only use cell phones anymore, the directories are often not the resource they once were.
In my lifetime, we have seen the near-total departure of the rotary dial phone, the slim line phone, the wireless home phone, the 900 megahertz phone, local phone companies, operator assistance, and the proverbial pay phone. Heaven knows what superheroes do anymore to change into their outfits. For Eco-Dude, the pickings are getting mighty slim – maybe tanning booths?
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During my daily trash can dive in the break room, I came across several plastic items that are recyclable. Jokingly, I made a comment while passing the desk of one of the people who had tossed an item into the trash, about the benefits of recycling.
In response, I was told that the choice to recycle is a personal decision. Really?
I would agree with them if their choice not to recycle had no ill effects or consequences for the rest of us. It’s the whole, “I’ll do whatever the damn well I please” attitude that really gets on my nerves. If you have the right to pollute our planet at your own whims and on your own terms, then I have the right to criticize those selfish actions.
Until we as a society become selfless instead of selfish, progress toward solving our environmental, economic, and social problems is going to be slow at best — I guess slow is better than stopped or reversed.
My heart hopes and prays that somehow, some way, some day, our society will become more enlightened on the benefits of caring and loving each other and our good Earth — that day cannot come soon enough for me.
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Some interesting data about America’s access to plastic recycling from a newly released national study prepared for the American Chemistry Council by Moore Recycling Associates. According to the study, recycling options in 2,468 communities of 10,000 population or greater were analyzed, as well as the unincorporated portions of 800 counties. Key findings were the following:
- 94 percent of Americans have access to plastic bottle recycling such as milk jugs and water bottles.
- 40 percent of Americans have access to other types of plastic recycling such as yogurt cups and similar containers.
- The majority of cities and counties continue to use resin codes to describe acceptable materials for recycling, which is very confusing to the public (emphasis added). It is unfortunately quite common to see education such as…
“Empty Plastic Containers: any plastic container with the “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7″ recycling number on the back or bottom. Look for the symbol on these types of containers: beverage, bleach, condiment, cleaners, cooking oil, detergent, liquor, lotion, mouthwash, shampoo, syrup, milk and water jugs, plastic lids and bottle caps, plastic food trays, yogurt and butter tubs, meat trays.”
“In this commonly repeated case, the use of the numbers is perplexing and unnecessary, since all plastic containers are one of these resin types and it does not affect the recyclability of the product if the code is not on the container (emphasis added).”
“This type of education discourages the public from participating in plastic recycling if they believe they have to check every plastic container to see if it has a number; it perpetuates the myth that only some of the containers can be recycled, whereas, in the program above, all containers can be included.”
That last point I did not know and in itself is probably the most important fact to take away from this report. In essence, there was no need for me to contact the maker of my after shave in April, for according to this report all plastic containers fall into the #1 through #7 categories.
While the data is very promising and the findings very useful, it does show a need for expanded recycling options across much of the United States for “non-bottle” plastics. Personally, I have bi-weekly curbside service for #1 and #2 plastics, but must drive about six miles to recycle #3 through #7 plastic.
The chart below from this nationwide study summarizes the proportions of the United States population that have access to various types of plastic recycling.
The second chart from this comprehensive report (provided below) shows accessibility to plastics recycling in a different format – by identifying the percentage of the United States population that has access to each classification of plastic products.
Thank you to Earth911.com for first posting this interesting study on its website.
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Colgate-Palmolive responded to my inquiry today through this blog site. Apparently, my email address did not come through with the inquiry. The Afta bottle is recyclable. Thank you to the Customer Service Department for responding.
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Seems like a very simple question to me. The same question was sent to Proctor and Gamble about one of their products and it received a friendly and positive response within a few hours, even though it was Good Friday. Kudos to Proctor and Gamble. Got to admit that I am scratching my head a bit regarding the lack of a response from Colgate-Palmolive.
May have to send them a follow-up inquiry. I will keep everyone updated. I know you are all on pins and needles over this matter. : )
UPDATE: Colgate-Palmolive responded to my inquiry today through this blog site. Apparently, my email address did not come through with the inquiry. The Afta bottle is recyclable. Thank you to the Customer Service Department for responding.
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After shaving one recent morning I looked closely at the plastic container of Afta aftershave/skin conditioner. I could not find a recycling logo anywhere on it. This really shocked me. So I started looking at other plastic containers for consumer products and found one other, Gillette Face and Body Wash, that did not have a recycling logo imprinted on it either.
The first question that popped into my head was why? The second was, why the heck not? How are these two products so special that they are not packaged in a recyclable container?
A general explanation why some plastics are not recyclable is provided through this weblink to ecoramblings.com.
But for me, I want to know why these two specific consumer products that are produced and sold in the millions are not sold in recyclable containers. If my food and medicine can be sold in recyclable containers, surely my aftershave or body wash can. So, for Earth Day, aside from picking up litter in my neighborhood, I decided I am going to contact both Colgate-Palmolive (maker of Afta) and Proctor and Gamble (owner of Gillette) and ask them why they do not use recyclable containers for these two consumer products.
I also plan to tell Colgate-Palmolive that I will NOT be buying Afta again until it is sold in recyclable containers. The Gillette product is used by one of my sons, so it will be up to him if he wants it purchased again it in the future. My recommendation will be no.
When and if I hear from either of these two corporations, I will post an update.
Happy Earth Day to all. Remember to be the change!
UPDATE at 4:00 pm: Thank you to Proctor and Gamble for an impressively quick response today about the Gillette plastic container mentioned above. It is a #2 plastic and can be recycled.
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In the community where I live, the primary local waste hauler offers residents who utilize their weekly curbside garbage pick-up service free curbside recycling every other week. This is a very nice and convenient option that includes items such as newspapers, boxboard, cardboard, #1 and #2 plastic, magazines, metal, and office paper/mail. The items do not have to be sorted which makes it even easier.
The free recycling option has been offered for more than three years now. After rapid growth early on, the participation rate leveled off around 55 percent. The rate has not budged to any extent for more than two years.The participation data leaves me perplexed and a tad frustrated. Why in world when you are offered free recycling would you not bother taking advantage of it? I have a few theories and then a suggested solution.
Theory 1: Some people just don’t care. Might as well face the fact that there is a certain segment of the population who has no interest (for whatever reason) in participating in recycling efforts. Either they find it to be a pain in the butt to save items for two weeks, they feel they do not have the storage space, or they are just plain old stubborn sticks in the mud.
Theory 2: Lack of awareness. No matter how much you blitz the public with advertisements and announcements, there is always a proportion of the population that either does not hear about the program, does not read the fliers, or are new to the area. Spreading the news through realtors is one way to notify newcomers. Short of employing Vulcan mind-meld techniques, I am not sure how to address the someone’s general obliviousness to announcements.
Theory 3: Trust. Some people just cannot believe that there is a service being offered for free. They think there has to be some kind of catch or gotcha in the fine print and they are not going to get hooked into a perceived ruse. Hey folks, it is not a joke or a ruse. Trust me, I drink Dr. Pepper.
Short of the community mandating participation in recycling, my suggestion for increasing participation in the free curbside recycling service is to charge those who do not participate a higher monthly fee for regular garbage pick-up than those who do participate in the curbside recycling program. Since those people who are not participating are adding more to the waste stream and using up valuable landfill space at a quicker pace, they should have to pay extra for doing so.
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