The Art of Recycling
Updated: Dec 9, 2019
By Ellie Doyle
Reduce, reuse, recycle. We’ve been hearing it since kindergarten, and when we were six, it probably seemed simple. For most people, though, the basic rules have gotten a lot more complicated—particularly when it comes to plastic.
If you’re up for a challenge, imagine yourself yesterday, from your alarm startling you out of bed to the moment you fell asleep. Walk yourself through your day. When did plastic products cross your path?
Most of us can probably identify a handful of incidentals. Maybe it’s the lid of the cup of coffee you pick up on your way to work, or the disposable fork and knife you grab from your favorite lunch place. Maybe you forgot your reusable water bottle and had to buy one from the vending machine at the gym, or you brought brownies to the bake sale and used plastic wrap to cover the pan. Some of us probably went grocery shopping and paid five cents for a plastic bag.
Plastic is impossible to avoid. In addition to the hundreds of times in a typical day when we actually choose to use it, it’s embedded in our society. It’s in our computers, our clothing, our kitchen appliances, and our electronics. Microplastics, the tiny particles that are emitted when plastic sits under the hot sun, have been found in sea salt, tap water, and beer.
Our love affair with plastic has serious consequences. It takes 1,500 years to break down. That means that the majority—almost 80%—of the plastic waste we’ve produced since 1907 is still around, primarily in our oceans, where marine animals bear the brunt of the impact. Because microplastics travel up the food chain, our choices rebound back on us when these animals make their way to our plates. Plastic additives, which have been shown to upset our hormonal systems and potentially cause cancer, have been found in nearly all adults.
How can you help? First, and most importantly, reduce and reuse. Try to check yourself before you reach for disposable plastic. Recognize the value of what you already have. Before you buy anything—clothing, electronics, decor—ask yourself where it will go when you’re done with it, and whether it’s really necessary. If it is, try to find it used. When you’ve cut back, encourage your friends and family to do the same. Support local companies, and politicians, who work to reduce waste and protect our earth.
Finally, recycle. Of the more than 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic that’s become waste since 1907, only 9% of it has been recycled. Your choices can play a part in increasing that number.
Luckily, the City of Boston can help you learn. If you don’t have a recycling bin at your house, get one, and know when to take it out. Not sure if you can recycle that pizza box, or that milk carton? Type your item in here and find out where it should go. (Quick tip: if you can knock it against a wall and hear a sound, that’s recyclable plastic. If it’s soft and flimsy, it’s trash. And if it has food residue, rinse it before recycling.) Not sure how to safely dispose of tricky items, like your broken iPhone? Check here.
Cinderbella's Eco Cleaning is proud to offer inside-use recycling bins for our loyalty members. Contact us today to find out how to qualify!
Reducing our dependency on plastic is a serious challenge, but it doesn’t have to be hopeless. With a little time and thought, you can take the first steps, right in your own home!
Are you more of a visual learner? Check out the video below by Kurzgesagt!