Plastic Plastic Everywhere

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Photo credit: Brigitte Morin

Okay, I recognize that this pushes me dangerously close to the dreaded “dirty hippy” line but I can’t seem to help myself. Okay… here it goes…. I collect every scrap of plastic that comes my way. Now before you judge, you should hear why I am doing this.

First of all, garbage sucks. Over the past couple of years I have been slowly phasing out as much waste as possible from my life. Thankfully recycling and composting programs are in place for Ottawa and Gatineau. This is sweet because it means that I am down to 1 half size garbage bag per month.

So why would I stop there. Old clothes and household items I donate away to the Free Store or give to friends. I have been shifting from purchasing physical gifts to giving experiential gifts (theater tickets, day at the spa, etc…). And I am getting better at asking to not have any disposable straws at restaurants.

But of course there is the ever elusive plastic wrapper. Somehow it has always been able to penetrate my defenses. It finds it’s inside packages that you thought were completely recyclable. It has even started to find its way into the organics movement (organic bananas and apples are commonly wrapped in plastic, I suppose to keep in the organicness or to balance the karma of a product that might be too environmentally friendly).

But now there is hope. For a good decade or so now, plastic bags and wrappers have not been accepted by the City of Ottawa or Gatineau as a recyclable product. The markets to purchase these items have simply dried up. That did not stop Brigitte, our Waste Diversion Coordinator, from searching for a solution. She has found a plastic recycler that takes all plastics and sells them to a manufacturer who makes plastic furniture from them.

So, as of this week, the University of Ottawa is rolling out a complete plastics recycling program. And when I say complete… I mean complete. Milk containers, no problem. Styrofoam, bring it on. Yesterday I even took apart an old pen, removed the metal tip, and recycled the rest.

So if you notice that my pockets seem a little extra full next time you see me it is because I have finally found it, a temporary solution to my plastic problem. I say temporary because what I would really like is to not have any plastic at all to recycle. But in the meantime… I guess I can settle for the next best thing.


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