recycle1

Recycling has always been something that I’ve felt is pretty important, and it frustrates me how inconsistent we are about it as a society across the board.

People who are the most adamant about recycling like to make you think that it’s this simple thing that everyone can do to help the environment, but the truth is for a lot of people it’s actually anything but. Take my community, for example, which has a recycling program sponsored by our county. They just recently made a change to how they’re going to pick up – we used to just leave everything out in blue plastic bags and that was that, but now they’ve decided that the bags are too much of a hassle so we have to use a separate trash can specifically for recycling.

Many places, such as where I grew up in Michigan, give you a bin to leave out by the curb with your garbage each week, but here you’re required to buy your own as part of their new Choose and Use Your Own Container program.

Except for blue bags, if those were you’re particular container of choice… 😛

But I think what frustrates me more about our local program is when you peel back the layers and see just what they actually do and don’t take. I’ll even admit that I knew they wouldn’t take certain items for a while, but I’ve always snuck them in the bags anyways … hopefully as a gentle reminder that we’d like our local recycling program to be all inclusive! Now with the bags gone and my goods just loose in the container, however, I’ve taken to sorting everything out just to ensure that I don’t look out to see a pile of stuff that they won’t take laying in my yard after the garbage people come by… 🙁

Here’s what they won’t take:

  • newspapers (who doesn’t recycle newspapers?!)
  • paper or cardboard
  • styrofoam (see bullet #1 – isn’t this like one of the most common things to recycling?!?!)
  • plastic film or bags of any kind (including the 8 billion shopping bags you leave Walmart with every visit)
  • plastic utensils, plastic toys

Admittedly I don’t really care about the newspapers for me personally because we haven’t gotten a physical newspaper in ages, but cardboard … we get a ton of stuff from Amazon, so I’m always leaving out piles of broken down boxes for the trash – it would be nice. And styrofoam I just think is ridiculous … I’ve never heard of a recycling program not taking egg cartons, for god’s sake!

As for what they do take:

  • aluminum and metal food cans
  • glass containers
  • plastic containers (#1 – 5, #7)

And frankly, the last one is a perfect example of what I’m talking about when I say that it’s not easy enough because never before have I had to sort through my recycling to look for the little stamps on each plastic container – which aren’t always uniform and sometimes don’t exist altogether – to figure out which ones go in the trash and which ones are ok to recycle. It’s crazy! Mind you, I spent a few minutes and did it anyways because it’s personally important to me, but there are a lot of people out there who really don’t care one way or the other, and yet the only way that a recycling program is effective is if the vast majority of the population participates in it.

I know it may seem petty, but expecting people to sort out their plastics is an extra barrier to entry. Expecting them to take their newspapers and styrofoam somewhere else because curbside pickup won’t take them is an extra barrier. Hell, to an extent even requiring a separate garbage can is an extra step that I’m sure some people are just going to say, “Screw it – all this does is cost me time and money. Why should I bother?”

As it is, not everybody thinks kindly of recycling … as crazy of a notion as that might be to anyone who cares about our environment. Here’s an interesting set of five short interviews with people who don’t recycle and it’s mostly a mixture of not caring, not getting an incentive to care, or it seeming like too much of a hassle … these are the kind of people you’re up against when you add another rule or limitation to what your local recycling program will cover, and as you can see, it doesn’t take much to make somebody just throw in the towel and send it all to the dump when they’re not really invested in the cause to begin with…

For me, I think the most vivid justification for why I recycle is the memory of the couple of times that I’ve actually been to the dump myself. It’s always been to dispose of some bigger items that the garbage won’t pick up when we’re moving, and if driving up a giant pile of garbage to throw away your trash doesn’t make you see the need to recycle, I really don’t know what else will!

Just so much garbage – as far as the eye can see – with random bulldozers and heavy equipment trying to shuffle it around as best they can. I remember once being worried that my car was going to get stuck as I backed in to drop off an old table that Goodwill didn’t want, only to then watch a garbage truck buzz in and add another pile of junk to the sea of garbage like it was just another day’s work. Which it really was, because he’s a garbage man, and hauling away the crap we no longer want is what they do.

So I do like to pride myself for doing the best I can to recycle, and I’m happy to say that if you were to count the number of garbage vs. recycling bags that our household puts out each month, the recycling probably outnumbers the trash … which is a good start. And as much of a hassle as it is to sort my recycling and use a special bin and make special trips to recycle the stuff that I can’t get rid of at the curb, I’ll probably be one to take the extra time to do all of that, too, because environmental science and putting less into our local landfill is important to me.

That said, I don’t live in a bubble, so it’s really just as important to me that my neighbors recycle, too, and if right now it seems like it’s too difficult or complicated or time consuming to make it worth the hassle for them, then recycling needs to be made easier so that they’ll want to care more about it, too.

The next generation of recyclers - playing in our new recycling bin...

The next generation of recyclers – playing in our new recycling bin…

Fun with Christopher – Space Oddity

April 29, 2015 2:03am
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I remember having this idea a couple of years ago that it might be kind of cool once I had a kid to setup a website of all the neat things that we explore online together … may have to revisit that one after the fun we had this evening…

Anyways, this song came up because I had The Secret Life of Walter Mitty on in the background and after it cut out (just before Walter accidentally dives into the ocean!), I thought it might be fun to show him the original … or at least, the original as uniquely performed by the Commander of the International Space Station IN SPACE!!!

I know that at one year old he doesn’t really get space or weightlessness or the thought of everything mankind has ever known existing on that blue marble floating below the ISS, but he will. I suppose that’s the fun part! 😉

I just watched the last five or ten minutes of An Inconvenient Truth because I stumbled upon it on Showtime and I was kind of itching to watch it the other night. I wrote a lot of papers about environmental awareness in high school and college … or rather, I turned in one really awesome paper over and over again … but either way, I particularly love the list of ways that everyone can change their lives to better our environment that runs over this song in the credits at the end of the film.

My favorite one of them all…

Vote for leaders who pledge to solve this crisis.

Write to Congress. If they don’t listen, run for Congress.

Ruining our oceans with the wonders of plastic…

October 28, 2014 7:15pm
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So I watched this documentary this afternoon, and boy, do I now feel like just a terrible human being.

I mean, it just takes a simple look around the room to see how much plastic is involved in our daily lives, and yet a few months or years from now just about all of it will be out the door and replaced with something new. All of that junk plastic has to go somewhere, and to think that these folks can get on a boat and sail a thousand miles out into the ocean and find themselves absolutely inundated with our garbage is kind of sickening!

Even if it isn’t just a giant, floating island of garbage like the description makes it sound, seeing the kinds of things that they were able to scoop out of the water in such abundance really makes you stop and think about how we’re kind of ruining the environment in ways that we don’t even realize, and that there’s not really an easy way to stop it, either. One of the lines that really stuck with me was the scientist talking about sandwich bags at Subway that get used for, what, maybe a minute if you then sit down and eat your sandwich right there at the restaurant?!

And here I felt a little better about myself for (mostly) using reusable bags at the grocery store, but clearly it’s not nearly good enough if the plastics we use get in the oceans, which then partially breaks down and ends up in the fish that we eat and finds their way right back to us.

It’s scary to see how a life of convenience is slowly ruining one of the biggest resources that our planet has, and we don’t even know it, and frankly most people probably wouldn’t care if they did.

What would it take to significantly cut down on consumer packaging in your life?

Of all the places that I’d expect to see pollution, plastics floating around in the ocean as tiny particles that will be there forever wouldn’t exactly have been on the top of my list. What do we do???

Reporting Ebola Right

October 17, 2014 1:54pm
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I’ll proudly admit that I’m usually pretty critical of Fox News and how their programming typically ends up doing far more harm than good, however I also believe in acknowledging when the bad apple does something right, and I’ve got to say that I was pretty damn impressed when I came across this commentary from Fox’s own Shepard Smith in which he addresses the reality of Ebola in America today and how all of the fear-mongering from politicians and the media is completely out of line with the science that we actually know today about such a horrible disease.

This is what news coverage is supposed to look like – factual and rational.

Solar Roadways

May 24, 2014 4:55pm
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This link has been circulating around a lot the last couple of days and the company behind it currently has an IndieGoGo campaign trying to raise $1,000,000 so that they can finish their prototype. There are a lot of questions to consider – many of which they talk about on their website, like traction on a basically glass surface, and snow accumulation in the winters up north, and how effective they’ll still be when they’re dirty or covered with stop and go traffic or whatever.

But it’s still a pretty neat concept to think about when you consider the sun as our biggest energy source and wanting to tap into it without covering every backyard in America with solar panels – there’s such a sizable surface area of our country that’s covered with roadways and parking lots today that maybe this would be a better alternative so that we can get more than just a flat driving surface out of these areas! I still think that it’s only one part of a bigger puzzle because I’ve got to think that eventually every new house being built will include things like solar on the roof, etc…, but even with lots of question marks – my biggest one for this project is just exactly how much do each of those panels actually cost, and of course, they’re certainly not going to be cheap … but then again, how many other costs could we consolidate into these things in their replacement to make it worthwhile???

Snow plows … oil and coal surcharges … smarter traffic management … safety expenses by offering a more friendly roadway for travelers.

As Bill Nye would say, this could change the world! 😀

Great representation, and I also like the quote in the middle – “The only accurate way to report that 1 out of 4 Americans are skeptical of global warming is to say, ‘A poll finds that 1 out of 4 Americans are wrong about something.'”

Again … 97.1% FOR, 2.9% AGAINST.

One of these numbers is 30x the size of the other… 😯

Deniers Gonna Deny…

May 7, 2014 5:07pm
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I’ve got to hand it to Bill Nye when he goes on programs like this because it’s gotta be like wandering into the loony bin with a handful of candy, but it’s clearly where the argument needs to take place because you’re never going to move the needle just preaching to your own choir.

Still, the Ken Ham analogy pretty much sums up a lot of these “debates” because just like no amount of evidence will ever persuade Ken Ham to consider another way of thinking, every single scientist on the planet joining hands and singing the woes of climate change in unison still wouldn’t be enough to convince these climate change deniers that maybe it’s something that actually needs to be taken seriously.

Granted, the host is pretty much the worst of this particular video, as she’s so full of her own agenda that she won’t even stop talking long enough to give her two guests a chance to debate with one another. Typically when one hosts a debate, isn’t it pretty much a standard for the host to remain impartial and only guide the discussion while the two sides on the stand actually do the debating???

Watching that train wreck of a Crossfire segment helps you understand how this episode from years ago with Jon Stewart just ragging on them actually came to be…

I’m watching tonight – are you?! 🙂

Ok, so admittedly this is actually kind of neat…

“The water temperature on the Lake Michigan is just a little bit below freezing, so you get a small piece of ice that forms in the water and as waves move back and forth it adds additional water and freezes in layers. It gets bigger and bigger, and eventually you get big balls of ice, that are pushed to the shore by the wind.”

(video via Boing Boing, description via The Atlantic Cities)

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