The New Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Repeat
Once we had Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. Then we had Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. But it is time for to ditch the Recycle and simply repeat Reduce and Reuse forever. Why? Because recycling is not working. And why is that, you ask? Because human beings are too lazy to sort, rinse, and actually recycle. Especially in the Western world, but our lazy habits are spreading to others parts of the world.
We are destroying our own lives by destroying the atmosphere we need in order to breathe. The landfills are overflowing. The ocean is filled with plastic—so much so that we are now eating plastic. How long before we as a species choke to death on our own garbage?
National Recycling Day is November 15th. If you are going to recycle, please do so according to actual guidelines. Otherwise, you may as well throw everything in the garbage just as you did before you became enlightened. Also, please buy recycled objects that others have taken the time to repurpose. Here’s how. If you are crafty, you can make your own recycled objects. The holidays are coming!
Do your best to stop creating waste. Even China doesn’t want loads of our paper and plastic waste that often have contaminants like dirty diapers inside. The Chinese government is saying NO to our waste imports. The ban on twenty-four varieties of solid waste is making US recyclers that trade with China nervous.
The Chinese government told the World Trade Organization that it had found large amounts of dirty and hazardous material mixed with solid waste, leading to serious environmental pollution.
Nine of ten US landfills will reach capacity soon unless we reduce the amount of waste we create. A personal anecdote: the mobile home park where I live has several areas designated for garbage and recycling. Both go into designated dumpsters. As recently as a year ago the amount of space available for both was adequate. Thanks mainly to Amazon Prime, we’ve had to increase the amount of weekly pickups, and every person in the park is paying for the increase. The recycling bins are filled with Amazon Prime cardboard boxes, and a few other recyclables. Unfortunately, the boxes also go into the garbage dumpsters, and the recycling contains items not meant to go there. And this is one small community of about three hundred people.
Back to the fact (yes, scientific fact) that we are eating plastic. Irish scientists are finding plastic everywhere, from deep-sea sediments and Arctic ice, to the stomachs of marine mammals, birds and even fish that end up on our dinner plates. As the plastic particles are small, they escape filtering during water treatment and enter our water system. Even vegans are not immune to consuming these plastics, because we all drink water. Drinking bottled water from your [most likely] plastic water bottle will not save you.
We must be vigilant and break the plastic habit. Refuse straws. Take your own mug to the coffee shop, carry a non-plastic water bottle. Buy a bamboo toothbrush. Use natural fiber scrub brushes instead of plastic sponges and scrubbies. Buy your milk in glass bottles. I still have way too much plastic in my house, but I am doing all I can to switch to biodegradable products, and to reuse everything as many times as the thing allows.
In California, we have a climate change advocate in Governor Jerry Brown. Recently he went to the Vatican and talked with the Pope. Governor Brown told the Pope the world needs “brain washing.” Brown will spend nearly two weeks in Europe speaking with leaders about climate change and what we can and must do to slow its devastation.
“Brown acknowledged that achieving transformation will not be easy, citing his recent visit to the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia, where world leaders gathered for discussions about trade with scant mention of climate effects.
“’At the highest circles, people still don’t get it,’ he said. ‘It’s not just a light rinse’ that’s required. ‘We need a total, I might say ‘brain washing.’’
“’We need to wash our brains out and see a very different kind of world.’”
A Bit of Good News
“A long-range plan designed to reduce air pollution around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that could cost up to $14 billion is now official policy.
Harbor commissioners for Los Angeles and Long Beach voted Thursday to adopt the 2017 Clean Air Action Plan Update. The vote took place during a special meeting conducted at the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel, and commissioners voted unanimously to support the new plan, according to announcements from both port organizations.”
Fight Back Against the Overwhelming Avalanche of Garbage
You know what to do.
Sandra de Helen, author of the lesbian thriller Till Darkness Comes also pens the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. She is a poet, journalist, and a playwright. Her plays have been produced in the Philippines, Ireland and Canada, Chicago, New York City, and in thirteen states. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Dramatists Guild. Her books are available online, at Another Read Through Bookstore in Portland, Oregon, and Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. Samples of her work are available on her website.