Scuttlebutt • Recycling
I return this month to the subject of recycling, the simplest way to reduce your garbage bill. Of course this is a particularly good time to think about waste reduction since we are about to have our national consumer holiday. Gift wrapping and packaging create a mountain of things to be disposed. Often in the excitement of gift exchange we tend to put aside thoughts of doing the right thing. Some might complain, “Do we have to be politically correct on this issue even at Christmas?” Well, yes, I'm afraid so. Your holidays will not be ruined by giving a little thought to what you buy as presents and how you deal with all the junk that comes along with the gifts you receive.
You have heard the waste reduction mantra, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. This is not merely a platitude, but a precise prescription for intelligent resource use. These admonitions are in their order of importance, the most important, obviously, is reduce. Are you buying someone a gift that they really need or is it one that you really like? Will the recipient be any better off owning your gift or is it something you are giving out of obligation? What about donating money to a cause that your recipient supports? How about volunteering to help them do a job of some kind that they can't do alone or simply hate to do? How about writing a poem for them? There are more ways to show your love than shopping at Amazon.
Reusing items comes in second to not having it in the first place. Some people wrap gifts in cloth material that can be reused for something else. Others wrap in newspaper that is freely available and easily recycled. And don't be afraid of re-gifting. If you have something that you don't need/want and it will benefit someone else, why not give it to them? Why should anyone care if it isn't still encased in plastic? What else are you going to do- buy them something they may not even want or already have?
Lastly, there is recycling. The amount of wrapping paper and cardboard that fill our homes is substantial and, of course, can be recycled. Unfortunately, styrofoam is NOT. Please don't put it in with your recycling. It is not recycled in any system that serves you. Don't pretend it is just because it has chase arrows. Simply because some can be recycled, doesn't mean anyone is actually doing it and with styrofoam, virtually no one actually is. In fact it is a curse on the land and should be avoided whenever possible. If anyone is planning to give me a gift this year that has styrofoam in it, please remove the gift from the packaging and just give me the item. I don't want any styrofoam and neither should you. If that pisses you off, you are free to not give me anything. Most of the stuff that people get for the holidays they don't need anyway.
Numerous people have asked me why the redemption center in Gualala is gone when they may have heard that there is a state requirement that there be some kind of redemption center within a mile of large grocery stores such as the ones we are lucky to have in Gualala. I did a little checking around to find out. The answer lies initially with the fact that the primary destination of most recycled resources is China. China is now producing plenty of their own discards and they have become much more particular about what they will accept from other countries. Unfortunately, loads from the U.S. have been turned down and the stricter standards are difficult to meet for a country that has not yet taken recycling seriously, especially at the household level.. People put all sorts of junk in with recycling and the cost to remove it and create clean loads makes it a tough sell.
Our industrialized, highly efficient and rapacious consumption of virgin resources competes favorably with labor intensive recycled feed stock. An increase in the minimum wage hasn't helped.
The long and short of it is that the county has permitted Solid Waste of Willits to close the redemption center “temporarily”. Per Paul Andersen of the Point Arena City Hall, “As part of a recently negotiated contract with the County, the County agreed for the buyback center to be closed 'temporarily.' That was in February. Now that there is a new contract, the buyback center is supposed to reopen sometime in the new year but on a much more limited schedule.” If you really miss the redemption center don't be afraid to call county authorities at 468-9710 to give them a nudge. Little happens in government without public pressure.
Film plastic, essentially the No. 2 and No. 4 plastic bags, are generally not permitted in with other recyclables. They tend to mess with machinery, so must be recycled separately. Surf recycles their in-house film plastic, which is taken by SuperValue, who recently purchased United Natural Foods, and sold to a firm in Nevada that makes Trex decking out of it.
Formerly, customers could recycle their plastic bags at the door , but Solid Waste of Willits no longer accepts these bags. This means that you must recycle your bags elsewhere, which is not that hard to do as Harvest Market and Safeway in Fort Bragg will accept these bags.
I don't mean to dampen your holiday spirit. I just want to remind you that we only have one planet and we are using it up at an accelerating pace. If you care about future generations, you might want to remember that.