Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Paper or Plastic?

**Another coincidence of an article found related to this blog's topic
Next time we're in Chicago, we are definitely going there to eat!

There is always something that is brought to my attention that makes me go, "Wow! Why don't WE do that?" 

Since today is Earth Day, this was extra-timely information to receive.  Having a conversation with my daughter, I learned just how far behind in recycling the United States is compared to the EU. She went to the market to drop off some bottles...and boom...Five Euros in her pocket! That's close to $7.00 US!

We have landfills everywhere. I've learned that Germany hasn't had a landfill since 2005.

We may recycle our plastic bottles and newspapers but guess what? Germany is recycling glass, plastics, cans and aluminum, and biological waste (such as veggie peelings and bones etc.).

You may have a total of 5 bins that you use weekly, there, to separate your garbage but I can see where it becomes less cumbersome over time and use and more a welcome lifestyle. There are very efficient methods of collection and if it's missed, you can actually call them back for a pick-up. Amazing!

For those of us who take our garbage and place it all together to be dumped in landfills, including prescription drugs, batteries, and other hazardous materials, we should be ashamed. Such an effort is being made in Europe, Canada, and Australia, and more that it appears they, alone, care about what happens to the planet we all inhabit.

When I mentioned glass recycling, let's add the stunning part of this plan Germany has instituted. They are of course, separated by color...the glass, that is. The non-refundable glass and plastics is what is put in the bins. You can actually take your (NONPLASTIC) bags of refundable glass to supermarkets and liquor stores, drop into the reverse vending machines and receive a receipt good at the market for cash or toward your purchases!

When I heard that, my mouth dropped! What an incentive! That is possibly the best incentive one could set-up for people who refuse to pay attention to the HUGE footprint they are leaving on Earth.

The only dilemma I could come up with is being robbed by someone who wants to steal your bottles.

This could help so many people who need the extra money. People take peeks into the waste cans on the streets in Germany just in case there's something there they can return. This could help people now who are underemployed or unemployed to have a little cash for them and their families. It could, obviously, decrease the amount of garbage going into the landfills, since it takes millions of years, IF the glass decomposes, at all.  It takes less time for other materials but we're still talking about anywhere for weeks for food and paper to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of years for other materials, such as disposable diapers.

For the couple of minutes it would take to separate your garbage into a couple of bins, each person could make a tremendous difference in the amount of pollution released into our atmosphere from the decomposition and burning of items that can be recycled and reused, up-cycled by others, or free-cycled to others.

Although corporations like Coca-Cola may be against such recycling due to financial concerns, we should really take a closer look at how other countries are managing their waste.  We could learn a lot. Considering the average American amount of waste that is thrown in landfills and/or burned amounts to 251 million tons per year, we are bound to run out of space to put our garbage, eventually. Europe recycled or reuses 70% of their waste, whereas the U.S, was at about 33%. How embarrassing!

We have to stop using our home as a garbage dump, if not for us then for the future generations to not have to breathe in and step over it.

In researching this, I still have not found an acceptable reason why we haven't jumped on this yet.

Happy Earth Day!

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