Do you know what’s a cycle? Not a bi-cycle. Not an orb. Not the menses. I am talking about another natural cycle. The water cycle. I found one of the best examples, which every fourth grader must know, painted on a trash can during a Scottsdale (AZ) festival season. No natural resource is more important for Arizona (and the world) than the water (and air).
Isn’t this a fabulous illustration? And it’s painted on a recycling can. So much more meaningful as an invitation for recycling. These images are fairly old, but I fell in love with the educational art and kept the snapshots for a reason.
The water cycle goes round and round, no saying where the start is: precipitation, collection, evaporation, condensation, precipitation . . . back to the beginning. The water has an infinite loop. Nothing gets lost.
Not so re-cycling (what’s in the blue trash can, not what’s painted on it). As I am spending time in a recycling-bound country, Germany, an idea popped into my head: as hard as we may try, recycling is not a true cycle. At best, it’s a loop. Why?
Take plastic, for example. First we pump mineral oil out of a well from the earth. This goes to a refinery, to a plastic factory, which makes the plastic bottle. From there, the plastic bottle goes to the beverage manufacturer (maybe as throw-away water bottle), to the distributor, to the store, to the consumer (us), to the blue barrel, to the sorting & recycling company, to the shredder, to the melter . . . and then WHAT?
We can’t put that darn plastic back into the ground, not as a liquid anyway, maybe bury it in a dump. We can’t pump the oil back down there. The Jack is out of the box. And, no way, Mike Wisausky, we can’t “put that thing back where it came from.”
Duh. What’s new. We know that already, you may say.
But the plastic has a re-cycle, right? Let’s take a look. Where does the recycled plastic go? Melted into some other containers. Again and again. How long? Hard to say. Until it floats in the ocean as either bottles or micro beads and enters the unavoidable process of the food chain. It’s been said, how sad, we all eat plastic now. Eat your plastic, kid!
Recycling, is not a true cycle, but it is still the best we can do. We humans are ignoring the Sorcerer’s Apprentice problem all too often. We do things just because we can. And for the money. We say, let’s deal with the consequences (of plastic) later, or not at all? Let the kids deal with it?
Avoid the plastic where you can and recycle the rest. America has much room for improvement recycling-wise. In Germany, most beverage bottles (plastic & glass with a deposit) go straight back to the store. Any other glass (wine bottles, jars, etc.) must be dropped at the glass collection station sorted by color. German beverages, in the first place, come in crates (12 or 20 bottles), also with a deposit on them. These bottles are washed and refilled.
How about that, America? Put that thing back where it came from. At least return all your bottles to the store. The merchants have to take them back! They made money off of them. Ditto! The bottles are their responsibility.