The Flaw in Recycling

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Spoiler alert: recycling is not the solution to the ever-growing waste issue.

Sure, it’s good to recycle. I applaud you if you make an effort to recycle, and even more points if you know how to recycle properly.

But recycling is not enough to stop our oceans from filling up with plastic. According to an article I read on Guardian:

The way to avoid ecological disaster is to starve the beast of consumerism, by buying less and reusing more of everything. Rather than blame meat or toy castles or aeroplane flights, we must change consumer habits and attitudes to consumption.”¹

We simply can’t keep up with the rate people are buying. In reality, as consumers, we need to become more conscious about where, when, and why we buy. If you’re interested in diving deeper into how you can help, check out my blog post: Consumer Waste is at an All-Time High & 3 Things You Can Do About It.

What’s the issue with recycling?

Aside from not keeping up with the amount of waste, there are many other sticking points when it comes to relying on recyclable goods to save the environment.

“Sure, recycling beats throwing something right in the trash, but tons of our recyclables still end up in landfills or oceans (literally, tons), making a mess of ecosystems. A recent study suggests only 9 percent of the world’s plastic is even recycled.”²

How is only 9% of recyclable materials actually being recycled?

Recycling is contingent on many factors:

  • Does the consumer actually recycle properly
  • Is recycling easily accessible to them?
  • Is there a recycling center near them that accepts X type of recyclable content?
  • There need to be consumers who buy the recycled material to reCYCLE the material and reuse it for another purpose to satisfy the process

Frankly, there are not enough people purchasing recyclable materials and actually repurposing them to avoid plastic making its way to our oceans and landfills. So there is a good chance that even if you recycle correctly, your waste will still end up in a landfill.

That’s the unfortunate truth.

In reality, recyclable doesn’t mean it’s biodegradable — it will not return to the Earth. Recyclable means it can be reused, but that doesn’t guarantee that it will be repurposed.

So, what do we with this information?

We can continue to recycle, of course, but more importantly, we can switch to compostable products! Compostable means it returns to the Earth. Recyclables are good, but only if they are recycled correctly and reused (include statistics 9%). Compost packaging is a better option.

Consider where you shop! Any change always starts with ourselves. Start by noticing your consumer habits. Where do you shop? What brands do you purchase from? Notice what kind of waste is associated with what you’re consuming — from what it comes in the mail in (or at the store), how it’s wrapped, and even how it’s packaged.

And then, shop smarter. Support businesses that have eco-friendly practices. Don’t know if they do? Ask! If you own your own eCommerce business, consider making the switch.

Here at Jeans Apothecare, we are making an effort to do just that. We have switched to 100% biodegradable and compostable mailers made from yesterdays news! Upcycled newspaper is matted into a layer of cushioning, then sandwiched between two layers of recycled kraft paper.

Once used, it is readily curbside recycled — or you can compost it yourself! Either way, these mailers have the ability to fully break down and return to the earth.

Interested in learning more about our practices at Jeans Apothecare? Visit: jeansapothecare.com!

Looking for more information on how YOU can make a difference? Check out my blog post: 5 Simple Ways to Reduce Waste

Visit Jean’s Apothecare virtual apothecary to shop sustainably.

Would you like support as you embark on your journey to wellbeing? Join our small Facebook community, Nurturing Your Body & Mind, where Jean’s Apothecare Creator, Casey Jean, provides education, resources, and support.

References

  1. The solution to the plastic Waste Crisis? It isn’t recycling | John Vidal. (2020, January 14). Retrieved April 08, 2021, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/14/plastic-waste-crisis-recycling-consumption-environmentally-friendly
  2. The recycling problem: A feel-good story that’s too good to be true. (2019, December 13). Retrieved April 08, 2021, from https://www.earthday.org/the-recycling-problem-a-feel-good-story-thats-too-good-to-be-true/

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Casey Jean Miller

Casey Jean Miller

Hi, I’m Casey Jean. I’m an herbalist, wellness coach, and Creator of Jean’s Apothecare. My mission is to help you live in a way that nourishes your body & mind