Recently, my family gave me a wonderful birthday gift of a zero waste meal. At least it was zero waste for us. There was certainly some waste from the processing of the food before it got to us. But, we deposited nothing into the trash from the meal, which was a great feeling.
There was a time when I thought the world would be saved because we could send plastic, metal, glass and paper off to be recycled. It felt good to take these items to a recycling center as opposed to the landfill. But it turns out that there is an enormous cost to recycling. Let’s consider plastic. So much of our products come packaged in plastic, which varies greatly in its chemical makeup. For that reason, recycling it is complicated. It must be sorted, packed into big cubes and shipped to a country that wants it. It then must be melted, a process that produces noxious fumes, and formed into pellets for resale to manufacturers. Oil companies, which produce the chemicals for making plastic, make it difficult to recycle plastic. They don’t make money if we recycle plastic, they make money selling us the raw material to make new plastic. So only a small proportion of the plastic produced can be recycled. And it can only be recycled once. Sadly, plastic production has skyrocketed and ends up in our oceans, rivers, streams and even our drinking water. It never breaks down entirely, it just gets smaller. But is it possible to live without plastic? The answer brings me back to the topic of this blog post. Continue reading