Why I'm Furious #2

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Photo credit: Jonathan Rausseo

I've become a seasoned recycling veteran. I know what's made up of what, what it breaks down into, how it gets sorted, and what happens to it. On an industrial scale, it's actually amazing. The automatic recycling systems set in place in major Canadian cities is really impressive (check out this video), and we're more than equipped with what we need to recycle any and all plastic, paper, cardboard, metal, food, glass.

When you really think about it, thats really all our waste is made up of, yet there's MOUNDS of garbage being produced every year. Why? Because the recycling industry doesn't matter if people don't recycle.

For the last 3 weeks, all the bags recovered from the recycling stations in the Cafeteria have been thrown into the garbage. The staff has decided to give up on sorting them because the bins are so contaminated you can't even tell what they were supposed to house! Shredder and I have been collecting hands-on data from the cafeteria since Friday, physically going through the bins every 30 minutes, sorting it, and recording our findings.

Some of it's reasonable. How are you supposed to know coffee cups can't be recycled? How are you supposed to know that your cafeteria buys biodegradable cutlery if they don't advertise it? How are you supposed to know soiled or greasy paper is still compostable? How are you supposed to know milk cartons are Metal/Plastic/Glass Containers? Even I didn't know that before

But people don't even make an effort. A girl right in front of me about to throw a plastic container from her tray in the compost - "Whoa whoa, thats not compostable. Actually, everything besides the plastic container on your plate is compostable."

She motions to throw the container in the plastic
"No no, that's only for plastic bottles"

"Whatever" She throws the container in the compost, her compostable cutlery and food in the Metal/Plastic/Glass, and her soaking wet compostable napkins in the mixed paper
"Whoa whoa whoa, that was all wrong"


I wish I could say it was an isolated case. These are some legitimate responses we recieved:
"It's not my problem" "It's just one container, they're gonna sort it all anyway" "It's too much work" "the compost bin is the biggest so its easier to throw stuff in" "I don't believe you" - "Who cares?" - "It's all garbage to me, man"

Thanks to these people, what should be one of the most effective waste counters in Canada has effectively become one big, fancy garbage can.

If you're just going to be a dipstick about recycling, why not save yourself a trip to the trash and just stuff your crap in your pockets? It'll be right where it belongs: In The Garbage.


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