After hearing about Melanie and my No New Plastic project, my friend, Anne Sadovsky, shared an article with me that she wrote over two years ago. The article was published in Multi-Housing News and is primarily directed towards those in the multi-housing industry. However, the way Anne wrote the article, it is really a great read for anyone interested in being more responsible with our ‘use’ of the world’s resources. I found Anne’s perspectives on the issues of plastic interesting and worth sharing with others. It is was neat for me to see where Anne’s awareness was on many of these issues over two years ago and how many of us are just now catching up on all of this. So, here is her article:
To Recycle or Not to Recycle…There is No Question
My Opinion December 1, 2007
Anne Sadovsky CSP, Dallas TX
Until two years ago the City of Dallas didn’t provide containers or pick up recycled items. Many of us did try to take newspapers to bins in grocery store parking lots, but all the other recyclable items went in the trash. Finally our neighborhood was chosen as one of the areas to receive the service, and I had a rude awakening. Our household is made up of two people, two dogs and three parrots…and an occasional overnight guest. When we got the recycling bin, it was truly shocking to see how much we had been putting in the land fills, and how much we now place in the bin for recycling.
There are two major points here:
- Every development in America needs to recycle…not just a few. Recently I had the opportunity to poll a number of professionals in our industry, and found that only about 10% of those questioned make any effort to provide recycling receptacles or education for home buyer and apartment renters. Some seemed to have sort of a “don’t mention it” attitude.
- If the industry, the owners, developers, associations, management companies, states, cities, government and you and I don’t provide, educate and insist on recycling it just isn’t going to happen.
There appears to be an attitude from too many that it’s “not our problem, leave it to the government to solve, we are already too busy, where would we put the bins, they take up space, it will cost us money.”
But I have a question: As we continue to contaminate this planet, and create enormous land fills, and destroy the quality of living environment we enjoy today, what will happen to our children, and their children, and then their children? We have pretty much guaranteed that what we are calling “use” of the world’s resources, our heirs will call “theft”.
Maybe some facts will convince you to get on board. A virtual island of garbage…mostly plastics… has formed in the Pacific Ocean. It is 1,000 miles from land, and sadly more of these trash islands are forming in other areas. Captain Charles Moore of the research vessel Algalita was quoted on CBS News, saying that the ‘trash patch’ is in a part of the Pacific Ocean, called the North Pacific Gyre, where the currents have trapped floating debris for years. It is twice the size of the state of Texas. Where does it come from? Since the plastic era began in the 1950s mankind has tossed bottles, wrappers, food containers and other plastics on the ground, which then with heavy rains washed into gutters, which washed into creeks and streams, which eventually ended up in the oceans. Plastic doesn’t pollute, people do. Plastic is a great product, not to be blamed. We are the culprits.
Plastic doesn’t biodegrade. We love it because it is cheap, light, durable and convenient…and look at all we use it for. It has actually been around since the 1860s. Bottles, fast food containers, bottle caps, combs, toothbrushes, cigarette lighters, hair clips, toys, fishing gear, weather balloons that fall to earth…this list could be pages long.
Even the United States Navy admits that until about 20 years ago, trash was simply thrown overboard. This week I have spoken to two people at the Pentagon; LCDR Cindy Moore, Navy Office of Information, and Mr. Ken Hess, Navy Environmental Readiness Public Affairs. The changes made as the Navy realized what was happening to the environment are phenomenal. On board, ships today are compacting, separating and storing all waste. When ships dock, the containers are removed at port and taken to appropriate recycling and disposal areas.
Several thousand accidental container spills off ships continue to happen annually. These spills contribute greatly to plastics and other non biodegradable materials in the oceans. We can only hope that cruise ships and personal floating vessels have better ways to dispose of garbage than the old ‘throw it over the side’ method.
So what does this have to do with you and your apartment community? This doesn’t sound as sexy as global warming, but it is at least as important. Why?
There are great products being made from recyclable materials. It can be put to use, over and over again. We are beginning to see labels stating “made from recycled tires, plastics, glass.” Not near enough, but it is a start.
If the sea creatures dying from eating plastic fragments, choking to death on the rings that held beer and soft drink cans don’t make you sad, perhaps this will. Dead baby Albatross chicks were recently found with stomachs full of plastics that looked like food, including one with a VP-101 tag from a World War 2. If that doesn’t make you realize how serious this is, maybe this question will. How long will floating plastic drums containing toxic waste and chemicals take to dissolve? No one knows for sure. Will the oceans become so contaminated that no creature can live in them…including you and your family swimming while taking that summer vacation at the beach? Perhaps the real possibility that we are destroying the planet will give us a wake up call.
Take responsibility and start your own recycling plan or ask your city or waste disposal company to put a program in place on every development. Educate the buyers/renters as to the importance of this issue. Get passionate about it. If not now, when? If not you, who?
You can learn more about Anne at her website: AnneSadovsky.com
I would love it if our apartment complex offered collection for recycled items. Currently Melanie and I have to drive our recycling to our nearest public library, which is fine for us, we’re happy to do it. But how many others in large multi-housing complexes would be more likely to recycle more of their waste if they had convenient collection on the property? Good design and proper planning, I believe, is a huge part of doing better going forward. We can build more eco-friendly products and homes with just a bit more consideration for how these products and homes will interact with our environment in their production, use, and disposal stages.
Thank you Anne for your tremendous efforts in raising awareness about many of the issues concerning plastic! You’ve provided a valuable perspective in the ongoing dialogue about how we as a world will use and not use plastic in the future.
Have an opinion? Share your own ideas and thoughts by leaving a comment below. We’d love to have you join the conversation.