The Three R's - Recycle

The third, and final, part of the ever-important 3 R’s of eco-friendly living, not to mention less stressed living and more frugal living, is recycling. Recycling is typically known as being those little blue and black boxes that you fill with your plastics, your metals, paper and glass that gets picked up every week (alternating weeks for us Ontarians) along with the garbage.

Trust others to deal with your trash?

Does that seem safe? As much as I would love to have trust in the government to keep us safe and properly process our garbage, I must admit that I just don’t. They are all-too-often only looking out for themselves, and they like to keep us little people in the dark. I’m sure they do take the blue and black boxes away, and maybe they do process them down and make something new with them. They must, for we see post-consumer recycled content in many things, from McDonald’s take out bags to toilet paper.

All too much I’ve noticed that the items containing recycled content are not things that you would hope to see. Recycled content seems to have become synonymous with down-cycled content. Why does our recycling turn into something less than it once was? Why can’t it become equivalent or even become something more?

Think outside the box

It can. It takes some effort, and it takes innovation, but it can. The process is called up-cycling, and personally I much prefer it. It may not always be feasible, but it is an option for many things. Taking something that you no longer have use for, maybe it’s even broken or its use has been erased. Turn it into something useful, or even decorative. Create beauty from refuse and trash, and showcase it.

Recycling plastics – hoax to make you feel better about consumption

In order to recycle plastics, they need to inject and release just as many toxic chemicals into it as there was originally placed into it upon production. The energy reduction (or amount of energy saved) by using recycled plastics as opposed to producing new plastic is around 5%. That hardly seems worth the chemicals and toxicity that it brings into the planet. It is for this reason that I completely advocate getting rid of unnecessary plastics. They are a detriment to the environment by every angle. Not only this, but when you recycle plastics, it loses quality. It can no longer become what it was recycled from. A plastic bottle from bottled water can not become a new plastic bottle, it is too low-quality. It will become plastic lumber, netting, etc. Then what? You cannot recycle a plastic once it has hit that low quality mark, it just becomes garbage.

Recycling other materials

Recycling should be promoted for things that can actually be recycled and maintain their current quality. Glass, metal, and paper can all maintain their quality once recycled. They can become what they once were. A glass bottle can be melted down and made into a new glass bottle. An aluminum tin can be melted down and made into a new aluminum tin. These items can go full circle and start again. They are worth the effort of recycling, because they save a considerable amount of energy by recycling them as opposed to creating new materials.

Last and definitely least

Remember that there is a reason that recycling is the third on the list. It should be your last option. Just because you have curbside recycling available doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to reduce and reuse first. The purpose of recycling is to catch the remainder of what cannot be reduced or reused, so use it as such. If you are buying things that you know are excessive, and validate it by saying “well, the container is recyclable” you are just doing yourself and the planet an injustice. Rely on yourself, don’t buy more than you need and can use, and the planet will be grateful.

Peace and serenity,

Simply Me

This post is part of a series. Part 1 - Reduce and Part 2 - Reuse


Condo Blues said...

My recycling bin is more of a craft item holder than anything else.

Simply Green said...

That works! :)

Anne K. said...

This is great, and provides a lot more detail than we usually see in such articles! Well done!

If you have any sewing/crafting tips, I'd love to hear from you.

Simply Green said...

Thank you for that, I really do try to put my heart and passion into everything I write. I can try to put some sewing and crafting tips together. I'm more of a knitter and a crocheter personally, but I definitely enjoy all types of creative creations :)