Recycling-Can One Person Save The Planet?

Douglas Pilarski

There Are New Controls, Regulations, And PR Campaigns To Save Us From Ourselves
Recyling Program BinsPhoto by Nareeta Martin via Unsplash

There is a renewed urgency on stemming the flow of plastic waste pouring into our environment. Here’s a reminder of why recycling is such a good thing — for you and the planet.

Can one person save the planet? There are new controls, regulations, and PR campaigns to save us from ourselves. See, we LOVE frozen one-serving dinners. Remove from box, pop it into the microwave, loosen the plastic, of course, eat it right out of the plastic serving tray. Doesn’t matter if it’s full of sugar and salt. Most of the gross weight is water. Hell, there is a little bit of chicken and something that looks like broccoli. So I’m good.

Question is. What do you do with the packaging? It’s useless after you eat. So what now? Oh, toss it. That’s right. Never think about it again. I don’t have the time to think about someone else’s problem.

The future health of our planet is of critical importance. Our food chain is full of problems. What matters is Wall Street likes our numbers. Does the frozen food company CEO worry about you or his numbers? Yes, we should worry about the environment, but not before our quarterly numbers come out on the 12th.
Recyclable PaperDebby-Urken Unsplash

What is the solution? Well, there isn’t one. We can only manage. Forget climate change too. The climate has been changing for thousands of years. The difference between the hurricane that hit Florida 43,000 years ago and one that hit last year? We have a reporter wearing a slicker and soaking wet khaki pants walking around in 86 mph winds.

Just to bring you comprehensive Action (insert channel number here) News. The coverage is life from the eye of the storm. Al Gore perks up when he hears this soaking wet man say climate change. It’s his word, you know. Changed it from global warming. He did get obscenely wealthy promoting it.
Plastic Ready To RecycleMihaly Koles via Unsplash

Let’s conserve natural resources.

Here is the plan

Won’t happen. We need wood, paper, oil, and minerals every day. That means we need our natural resources to supply us and comfort us. There is no replacement for the 300-year-old cedar we are planning to harvest.

Planting trees and packaging them as conservation is what we do to make cutting them down acceptable. Walk around in any junior high school and take note of the unused paper you encounter. It is staggering. Do the math. It is a waste. Need paper for a project? Order more, there is a budget for that.

Lessening the impact of using up our natural resources means we need to do something about water, sand, soil, plant fibers, mining, metals, and so on. Do you know the consumption rate of wheat, oil, copper, cotton, and sardines? Investigate the numbers. It runs into millions of tons.

Leave ecosystems and wildlife be

I was driving through Iowa on a business trip. In an open field was a doe, munching flowers. I slowed down to appreciate this creature then continued on my way.

When did you last experience a river with natural banks? You know, no cement retainers or docks, just a free-flowing stream of water. Untouched. Wet. Flowing.

Let’s not disrupt nature.

Reduce raw material consumption.

We search daily for new raw materials. More sources mean we can build things, cook things, and drive things. We take from the vulnerable in our search for cheap materials. A company harvests timber in the United States then ships it to Asia. The factory in Asia takes those logs, makes furniture, and sends it back to North America. That’s the best we can do.

We can save energy by reusing our raw materials.

It costs less to recycle aluminum cans than it does making the same item from scratch. The number in this drama is 70% less. Recycling paper reduces costs by 40%. Recycling waste oil, glass bottles, and kitchen scraps all offer benefits. Recycling our resources saves our environment.

Fundamental changes are needed.

I don’t mean stopping at recycling your pop can at work. I mean profound changes in how we deliver consumer goods. Satisfying the consumer is king. We need to change the expectations of the consumer. Don’t wait for the government to do anything meaningful. We know politicians take care of themselves first.
Home RecyclingPhoto via Pinterest

It might be impossible but we can try. Composting your potato skins is honorable. Let’s make Grassroots action come first.

We all need to pitch in and consume less stuff. If you buy something in a glass jar, it should hold turmeric or olives when empty. A jar should live long and enjoy a second life. I buy products for the jar they come in. I know certain sizes and shapes work wonders holding my baking supplies or spice mixes. Use the good jars over and over.

Don’t wait for the government to create a recycling program. Find a new purpose for some old thing. Be creative. Take a saw to some leftover boards and make a planter. You can make a working compost area on the patio. You only need an empty coffee can to start.

Improving our planet’s health is more important than ever. No need to go overboard. Just find something to do and do it. Don’t wait for permission or approval. Start small. Conserve as our lives depend on it. Because it does.

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Douglas Pilarski is an award-winning writer & journalist based on the west coast. He writes about luxury goods, exotic cars, horology, tech, food, lifestyle, and workplace issues!

Beaverton, OR

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