Even if you are a recycling pro, you still aren’t doing the environment any favors. While recycling is a necessary and essential part of living sustainably, it doesn’t solve the devastation that is being done to our environment.
The problem with recycling is that 80 percent of the environmental impact comes from the manufacturing process. It takes so much energy and many resources to recycle materials that the process really only removes about 10 percent of the carbon impact of a plastic bottles life. Recycling is great for the plastics that you already have, but the real way to make a positive impact is to avoid it altogether.
It’s time to think outside of the bin, and it’s time to ditch plastic.
Still think recycling is the answer to everything wrong with the environment? Here are some reasons that recycling won’t fix our problems, and how plastic production and the recycling process are contributing to this nightmare.
Plastic is made from crude oil
The chemicals that are used to make plastic are extracted from crude oil. This extraction is both dangerous and contributes to pollution. The United States National Response Center has reported that there are about 27,000 oil and gas accidents every year, there have already been over 20,000 in the past ten months (144 during the week of this being written). These incidents not only pose a risk to human life and health but also routinely kill wildlife and sea life.
Plastic uses natural gas from fracking
Most of America’s natural gas is extracted through a devastating process called fracking. What is this natural gas the main ingredient for? You guessed it, PET plastics.
Not to mention the coal….
In order to melt down plastic pellets to turn them into products, they must be heated. This uses electricity…which uses coal… which creates smog and air pollution…The same goes for melting down existing plastics to turn them into other products.
Transportation of plastic pellets requires diesel
Plastic pellets are transported by diesel trucks and ships. This fuel as mentioned earlier has its own negative environmental impact, but these pellets also routinely spill out of shipping containers. Unleashing countless amounts of microplastics into the environment.
Recycling rates are frighteningly low
The national average for materials being recycled hovers around six percent.
Things aren’t “Recycled” they are down-cycled
Plastic can usually only be turned into another item once. Contamination and other factors mean that these plastics usually get turned into lower-grade materials like pipes, polyester fabric, etc.
Did we mention the diesel?
Because the trucks that pick up your recycling also use diesel, about five gallons per ton of recycling as a matter of fact.
Bottle caps are a recycling nightmare
Bottle caps are made from different plastics than bottles. These have to be manually separated, which costs money and time and any caps that are missed contaminate the batch.
Recycling requires a lot of water
You need to wash it before it goes in the bin, or it will be contaminated and thrown out, but the bottles need to be further cleansed before they can be processed. This causes water pollution and means that the recycling process itself is doing damage.
Recycling usually loses money
China isn’t buying our trash anymore, and the market for recycled materials simply isn’t large enough to support recycling systems. This means that many towns are forced to send recycling to landfills due to lack of funding.
These are just some of the reasons why recycling is not a solution but moving toward a minimal waste lifestyle is. The key is avoiding plastic so that we avoid the destruction that comes from manufacturing it and reduce our environmental impact to as close to zero as we can. Feeling inspired to start making better choices? Check out our tips on using less plastic and making your own personal care items.
What we can do
But we aren’t the only ones contributing to pollution, big businesses are the worst offenders. A sustainable option exists that would eliminate the need for plastic bottles for home and personal care goods. By refilling soaps, shampoos, detergents and more at the stores you already shop at you can keep this destruction from happening, but retailers don’t think you care enough about the environment to want it.
Help us prove them wrong! By signing the petition, you will be telling retailers that you expect them to make better choices and take care of our environment, and that you are dedicated to protecting it as well. Sign the petition below and tell them #WeWantRefill!