By Scotty Kowall

Plastic Thoughts On Recycling
Originally written April 2, 2001

Why has life become so complicated? As a child one of my first responsibilities was taking out the garbage, depositing the bags of garbage into galvanized metal containers that sat in a corner of the garage. It was a time in history when the sanitation workers would actually go into the garage to get the trash cans and return them after they were emptied. They didn't leave them lying on a street to roll over to your neighbor's driveway, like they do now. Eventually I got my own home and my own trash containers. Keeping up with the times, I got plastic containers. Everything was going great. Then one day I woke up in the Twilight Zone. The county had started a recycling program. Every home was given a bright orange plastic container, in which to put their paper, glass, aluminum and plastics. As an environmentalist and a responsible member of the community, I was a hundred percent in support of the program. I found a convenient location in my garage for the container. Diligently I deposited the newspapers and other recyclable items into it. A problem quickly arose. The container was too small. The sanitation department picked up the recyclable items every two weeks. At the end of the first week, the newspapers filled the container. I was supposed to tie my newspapers in bundles, but there is a limit to how much time I will spend with my garbage. Instead I went out and bought a plastic milk crate for the plastic two liter bottles, aluminum cans and glass. It seemed like a good idea at the time. In hindsight, I should have got a container made of another material. The sanitation workers took my milk crate along with all the other recyclable items. They may have been doing me a favor. An open view milk crate isn't the ideal container to hold your empty beer cans. I wasn't keen on having my drinking prowess on display at the end of my driveway for all to see. So I went to the local hardware store and bought three plastic trash containers, having labeled each container appropriately, plastic, glass, and aluminum. I found a nice location in the garage right next to the 'Real' garbage. The recyclable items were taking over my garage. A new problem had developed. It seemed every time someone finished a soda or beer it had to be deposited in the proper container. The containers were in the garage. Since I rarely drank a beverage in the garage, it became apparent more bins were needed in the kitchen. I purchased more plastic containers for the kitchen. Each was lined with a plastic kitchen liner. Then another problem arose. Empty beer cans and milk containers have a distinct odor after a day. This meant after enjoying the beverage of your choice, you now had to rinse the container before disposing of it. It wasn't enough the county had me sorting and stockpiling my garbage, I now was washing it. Imagine washing my garbage! What once was a simple task had now become a bureaucratic nightmare. Last night I took the garbage out. All five of my plastic trash containers lined up at the end of the driveway. Next to them were the mandatory green plastic trash bags full of yard clippings. If you ever wondered what become of your plastic two liter bottles and milk containers, chances are they recycled them into plastic trash containers. We may be helping the environment from filling landfills with plastic, but in doing so we pollute the air by manufacturing more plastic to hold the plastic we already have. I don't play the stock market, but if I did I'd buy plastic. They sure sell a lot of it. I have a solution to the dilemma. Everyday millions of Americans swallow a little plastic capsule of medicine or vitamins. We think nothing of it because it dissolves in our body. Let's make the two liter bottles and milk containers out of the same plastic the capsules are made of. Then when we throw the containers in the landfill, they will dissolve. As for me, I'm going to scrap all my plastic trash containers and buy a good old fashioned American galvanized garbage can. I just don't have room in my home for all that plastic.

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