Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Items collected during July 2009

I'm still avoiding bringing home other people's recyclables, out of concern I'll bring home H1N1 flu. Instead, I've spent quite a bit of time picking up non-recyclable trash, which seems preferable at this time because the bags of trash can be tossed straight into a trash can without having to enter my home. (Recyclables almost always need rinsing.) I didn't even attempt to keep a list of the trash I picked up during the month of July. I did note, however, that it included an unusual quantity of foam packaging, much of it broken into pieces.

When I picked up recyclable bottles and cans that didn't have visible contaminants, I sometimes threw them into a recycling bin at work without bringing them home for logging, so I can't provide a complete list of recyclables collected. However, the following list should be fairly complete.

  • 12 aluminum cans (1 Natural Light beer, 2 Diet Pepsi, 2 Heineken, 1 Miller Lite, 1 roadkilled Coors Light, 1 round Coors Light, 2 Miller High Life, 2 roadkilled Diet Coke)
  • 20 plastic water bottles (7 Deer Park, 2 Aquafina, 6 Kirkland, 1 water bottle without a label, 1 VASA, 2 Poland Spring, 1 Dasani)
  • 1 torn plastic bag

  • 2 black pens
  • 5 plastic carrier bags
  • 1 small plastic bag
  • 1 very long, very narrow plastic bag

One odd thing about the July tally is that it doesn't include any glass bottles. It's possible I picked some up and threw them in a recycling bin at work without logging them, but it's still odd that there would be such a discrepancy between the number of glass bottles and the number of aluminum cans. I can't explain it.

I have largely given up on picking up plastic bottles, because I find the environmental benefits of recycling plastic less clear than the benefits of recycling aluminum or glass. However, one day I felt compelled to pick up numerous plastic bottles. I was participating in a group walk for a cause I believe in, and was dismayed to find my fellow participants tossing their used water bottles onto the ground. I always find it disconcerting when people who are activists for one of the causes I believe in turn out not to care about one of my other causes, in this case the environment. I wanted to say something, but settled for whipping out a bag and filling it with discarded bottles. I wish I could also have collected the hundreds of bottles that were "properly" disposed of in overflowing trash cans, but I lacked the time and bag space to do anything about those. I'm already thinking ahead to the next walk, and am wondering how to raise the issue of plastic pollution with the organizers and participants. Any suggestions?

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