Puberty Day

...or something like that.  A certain person I know of the teenage variety, recently attended an off-site, multi-school "Peer Summit". They talked about vaginas, oral sex, and STD's, which is of course fantastic. What I wasn't prepared for, was THIS:

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 10.34.02 PM.png

GROSS, right?!?

These flimsy water bottles of indeterminate plastic makeup, were given as swag to the Peer Summit attendees. 

Gee, (huge eye-roll) thanks.

Dumb cheap thing had already leaked all over said person's backpack. 

Looked on the bottom for the non-existent recycling symbol, which, while dubious in and of itself, tugs at a darker suspicion of what really happens with all that plastic in our recycling bins...


It certainly is satisfying having a bin dedicated to taking all of our bottles, cans, papers, and plastics "away".  

Away from where we are. 

Makes you feel like you're doing your part.

Where it goes, and what happens with it after it is emptied from our recycling bins is of course more complicated. One aspect of this involves something called "China's Green Fence" which was enacted in 2013. Newsflash, China is facing serious pollution problems, and this "Green Fence" has been an effort  for the Chinese to cut down on the volume of contaminated post-consumer plastics being shipped (away from us) to their ports.  In a nutshell; our recyclable plastics have traditionally been bundled and shipped overseas to be sold as scrap - most often to China. But now that China is restricting their imports of plastic scrap (the ugly fall-out from our throw-away culture), it's causing exporters (like us) to scramble for new channels to funnel our plastic waste (hello Malaysia and Vietnam!).


It's complicated, and I won't try to explain it because I don't understand it well enough to do a proper job, but I do know that it's not a neat and tidy loop from manufacturer to consumer to recycler to makers of new plastic stuff (like the clever recycling symbol implies). 


Statistics on how much plastic is ultimately "recycled" varies, but keep in mind those numbers refer to the amount of plastic we are able to recover to sell as scrap, not the amount of plastic that in the end is sorted and shredded into flake and then re-molded into new products. So let's take those recycling numbers with a grain of salt, because those low numbers are even lower.

Case in point:  EPA website states that "Only 9% of total plastic waste generated in 2012 was recovered for recycling."

9% recovered for recycling, not 9% recycled into new products.

I don't know - I've typed more words than I intended here trying to make the point that I don't think we should be feeling so virtuous about putting plastics in our recycling bins. 

The holidays are a great time to look at our plastic consumption with fresh and discerning eyes. From the gift wrap to the gift itself. 

Hmm. Maybe I'll throw together a gift guide just to get the juices flowing. I certainly haven't done any shopping yet, so this can be my two-birds/one-stone effort.