Tweenie’s Greenies

Week 2: Perpetually Yours, Plastic 

If you want to capture time, just put a Timex watch into a plastic bottle.  It will stay there forever and will keep on ticking.  Plastic never really decomposes when left to it’s own devices.  You can however recycle plastic.  If you look on the bottom of a plastic container you will notice a triangle of arrows with a number in the middle.  Most people think that it means that the plastic can be recycled (most of it can) but what it really indicates is the type of plastic.  See here for a summary of the types. 

Types 1 & 2 are the most common types of plastic that are recycled.  But even then, only a small percentage of plastic materials even make it to recycling centers.  Some of the other types of plastic are too difficult to be recycled and may not be accepted for recycling.  Unlike glass and aluminum, it is difficult recycle a plastic container back into a plastic container because it doesn’t retain the same properties when reheated.  It has to be “downcycled” into another plastic material. 

A great example of this, is a program set up by Nike to recycle as much material of tennis shoes as possible.  It’s called “Reuse a Shoe“.  It is their goal to keep as many old worn out tennis shoes from the landfill as possible.  I saw a presentation by a Nike rep on their shoe recycling program and was amazed at how much of the shoe can be reused and downcycled!  Nike has created drop off sites for tennis shoes to be recycled for new uses.  They separate the different materials of the shoe, grind the materials up and create play and sport surfaces such as the rubbery material that cushions the fall of your child at some playgrounds.  However, not many people know programs such as this exist and therefore, spreading the word is important for reducing the amount of material sent to a landfill.  Here is a way to look up a shoe drop off location near you.  Click Here.

Did you know that if you looked at North America from space, the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard is a landfill? (The Green Book)  If we reduce the amount of plastic that we send to the landfills by recycling, we can minimize the space used in landfills (plastic is estimated to take up 25% of landfill space) and ultimately decrease the demand for new landfills/waste areas.