This photo is from a friend of mine’s college cafeteria at Marymount University! A friend, who worked at a restaurant that did the same thing; informed me that at closing time he would just throw both bins into the dumpster out back. Cringe. I’ve also heard about cleaning people in offices emptying individual waste baskets and recycling bins into the same large bag. So why go to the trouble to make recycling labels only to throw plastic bottles and newspapers into the trash anyway? Why fake recycling?
No doubt, it’s deplorable. Bottom line; sustainability takes a village. Kudos to Hilary Clinton for coining that phrase. Just like an assembly line, your plastic bottle is counting on a lot of people to make it into its next life as recycled polyester. How do we get folks to change their faking it ways? It’s common knowledge and given it’s helpful when receptacles are easy to access, but still we truebluegreens wonder how much easier can recycling be?
I’ve heard my fellow green architecture friends lament about something similar with LEED, Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design, which certifies buildings for sustainability. Many credits for LEED rely on operations and maintenance staff to complete important steps in the cycle like delivering recyclables to its designated location. With the amount of time and money that goes into certifying a building it’s sad that it’s devalued by small mistakes.
So, let’s say we make some progress on that end. Some of us still question whether or not our cities are even recycling our carefully sorted items. I would love to put a GPS locator in an aluminum can to find out… OK, maybe not so practical. The next best thing is to research local sanitation departments. In my neck of the woods, New York City, the system seems to be legit (reasons why). But, what’s it like for most local sanitary divisions?
Finally, some will also argue that certain recycling processes like creating recycled polyester from plastic bottles do more harm than good. Lets go down that rabbit hole for that next post…