Measurable Outcomes

I am a dedicated recycler. Bottles, cans, paper, plastic, cardboard, even some organic wastes like grass and branches. I’m not perfect, it’s not a complete process at my house, but I still like the idea that I am helping out with the environment and the endangered wildlife in the world. I thought it was time to take a look at how that is going.

Of course, the most current data is from a couple years ago. The folks who gather the data need time to collate, staple, and bend the numbers into something that makes sense to the public. In 2014, a report showed that only half of Americans recycle 75% or more of their recyclable items, and only 8 % recycle 100%. The EPA has more info on that, but as we know, funding is being taken away from that agency and a lot of its protective measures are being revoked. So I wonder if we will have good data going forward.

092919 beach problem

Clean River (I love that name) offers ways to measure your recyclable impact and Resource Recycling (Your trusted source for recycling news and analysis) reminds us that measurements are very important. I want to know more. I want to know that habitats are less polluted, that endangered species are coming back with stronger numbers, I want to know that the end result of this effort has helped future generations.

092919 bales of trash

All birds are impacted by pollution, not just the un-recycled stuff but everything that makes our world unclean. Sciencing has some basic points that most of us understand already. It doesn’t hurt to share them in case something new has emerged. Environmental Chemistry published an article on Protecting Wildlife from Trash and cites several landfills that have special projects to protect endangered wildlife, from butterflies to kit foxes and red-legged frogs to burrowing owls.

092919 plastic

Finally, SmartAsset gave me what I needed, a list of Pros and Cons of Recycling. And their bottom line is not the trenchant hit I wanted it to be since they are basically farming for customers who want to invest wisely. That’s nice. So here’s what I gathered. Recycling is better than not recycling, in spite of the negative vibes surrounding it. Plus it might encourage people to keep going. Start a compost pile, look for fewer one-use containers, raise more of your own food. Don’t assume that recycling is enough to walk back your carbon footprint. In fact, we’ve managed as a country to negate all the good recycling might have done, according to The Week dot Com. But they know how to fix it. Get the government to step in. Why am I skeptical about that solution?

092919 piles of trash

While we wait for the world to sort out the issues, here are a few things you can do. Go find a park or habitat reserve that needs volunteers. Take up birding and connect with others who want to help wildlife thrive. Skip an expensive coffee once a week and save that handful of dollars to donate to a good cause like World Wildlife Fund. And keep your eyes open for articles on the recycling crisis. We are all in this together, the plants, the birds, the mammals, the insects, the fish, the amoebas and all other life as we know it.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.

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