Plastic is the wonder invention of the 20th century, being used in nearly everything and by everyone. It was clear early on that plastics would be useful in a variety of applications, and we have been taking advantage of its favorable properties across the globe. For all of its advantages it has several downsides as well. The greatest concern is the slow rate at which it decomposes, which has lead to some unforeseen consequences.
Plastic waste is a man made catastrophe that will only get worse. Already there is a Texas sized plastic patch in the Pacific Ocean. Plastic trash from bottles to bags, can be found nearly everywhere such as Mount Everest and the Mariana Trench. We need to lessen the amount of plastic trash that ends up in landfills and out in nature, because it can take up to 1000 years to decompose!
Recycling plastic is something that we can all do to make a difference. On average we only recycle an estimated 30% of what is available to recycle. To help make it easier i’ll outline a couple things to know and remember.
- Cleanliness is very important, in order to be accepted at a recycling center the plastics that we recycle need to be clean. Make sure to rinse out bottles, or remove food waste from containers. One dirty recyclable will get everything thrown out.
- That recycle symbol you see on products actually means something, the number inside the symbol tells you what kind of plastic it is. Without getting complicated you can always recycle #1 and sometimes #2, #4, and #5. The other numbers can be much harder to recycle. So start with those easy ones.
- Bottles, jugs, and jars can always be recycled, whether glass, metal, or plastic. The numbers are just a guide and don’t always get recycled, but you can be certain that those shapes can always be recycled
- Be wise with your plastic bags, these things don’t go in your recycle bin. They are considered to be dirty plastic by recyclers. Instead, collect all your bags and drop them off together at centers that accept them.
written by Jeremy Brown, picture credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/usoceangov/