Recycling Plastics

Updated February 26, 2020
I found a guide to plastic by numbers as I try to recycle as much of it as I can. This article looks into each type of plastic and each one has different qualities, but all are bad for the environment. Number 6 is most alarming as it causes cancer. Have you ever had this happen?  You have takeout food in styrofoam container, so you put it in the microwave to heat it up, and it starts to melt or catch fire. It’s a wonder I am not dead considering how many times this happened to me. This is detailed in the article.

I disagree with the website for selling a so called “drinking water safe” garden hose. It may be safer to use that hose, but how many people drink from their garden hose? The drinking water hose can not be recycled just like any other garden hose.

Updated January 24, 2020

Which plastics can and cannot be recycled. According to this Esquire Article plastic numbers 3, 6, and 7 can not be recycled. The article states that it is either too hard or too expensive. I have found some plastics marked Other and those can not be recycled either. Plastic Number 5 yogurt cups and cottage cheese cups can be recycled, but not every place does it. Find out if your area recycles number 5 plastics and if not you can bring them to another area. Also the plastics need to be clean and washed out or they will not be recycled. It really bothers me to think that after I am gone from the planet, plastic that I used will be on the planet for thousands of years creating environmental chaos. I used to think any plastic could be recycled. Plastic forks, knives and spoons can not be recycled unless they are marked biodegradable or compostable then they need to go into compostable trash.

Updated December 18, 2019

I found a Blog on Scientific American that basically says the way I feel. I recall having been through the stages of Climate Change and Global Warming. Stage One: In the 70’s I learned about pollution in school and I promise to do all I can to help. Stage Two: I find out that everything I can do won’t make that much difference even if I recycle as much as I possibly can. Stage Three: I realize there is nothing I can do other then try to forget about this nightmare and learn to live one day at a time. The blog takes you through the steps and mentions the Crying Indian PSA. My teachers in school thought it would be good idea to have us children write essays on how the Crying Indian made us feel. Now I feel that its like you have to either look away or start crying yourself.

July 6, 2019

Note: I found a company that claims they can take items for recycling that others can’t but I don’t know what the fine print is. It could be that you have to send them at your personal expensive. They are plenty of companies that are willing to “recycle” stuff if you mail to them at your expense, but I don’t know if they really recycle them or not. Likely they keep them and sell what they can and trash the rest.  So one really needs to read the fine print to find out.

I love Brown Cow Yogurt, but I live in a place where they don’t recycle number 5 plastics. Each time I have a small yogurt for breakfast that yogurt cup will hang around the planet for a thousand years? I used to live in San Francisco where they recycle number 5 plastics. I discovered after living here for four years that none of the yogurt cups I was washing and faithful placing in the blue bin where not being recycled.

What can be done? I could take the empty yogurt cups to San Francisco to make sure they are recycled, or I could start paying more money for yogurt in glass jars. The yogurt in the glass jar was better tasting then Brown Cow, but it costed twice as much money and this could be a concern.

I don’t know what to do with Number 5 plastics, but I found a company called Give Me Five which claims they will recycle number five plastic if you mail it to them at your expense. I don’t think very many people would do that. The best solution would be for everywhere to start recycling number five plastics and also plastic forks, spoons, and knives. Plastic silverware can be made compostable.  So many business and government entities out for plastic due to cost considerations.  A few enlightened local business do use compostable silverware.

One of the greatest offenders was and is Frozen Yogurt Shops. Not only do most frozen yogurt shops use plastic spoons, but Yumi Yogurt in San Jose used to use Styrofoam cups.  Styrofoam can not be recycled. I thought about it, and I started opting for a waffle cone to save the Styrofoam cup.  Now many Frozen Yogurt Shops changed to paper cups which is a good thing. Some of the better Frozen Yogurt shops used wooden spoons or compostable plastic spoons. If you get a compostable plastic spoon you need to place it in the green waste cans.   I often became sick with dread thinking of all the Styrofoam cups and plastic spoons used daily and discarded.

Starbucks still uses paper cups with a plastic lining so they can’t be recycled. The cups go into landfill or they are composted. They are they put plastic lined cups the Ecosystem by composting them in landfills. The plastic makes into way into the water and soil. The plastic can cause cancer and other health issues.

Plastic bags are hardly ever recycled. I used to take plastic bags to drop off places, but I was not sure they were ever picking them up or recycling them. The plastic bags have to be clean and if the bags are clean most people would reuse them. The dirty bags have to be thrown out or washed and then dried on a clothesline. This is very unlikely to happen.

I used to often Wishcycle. I would put things in the blue bins that I hoped they could recycle. I wanted to give those items a chance to be recycled. I found out that is the wrong and if you do that you hurt the overall recycling process. I have been setting up a new garden and I have bought many bags of soil conditioner. The plastic bags soil comes in can not be recycled.  The other thing that bothers me is toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. I don’t think they can be recycled. I don’t know what to do. It’s very frustrating to feel guilt each time I am faced with something plastic that can not be recycled or will not be recycled due to the cost.  Once the garden is set up the need for bagged soil will be reduced. I do home composting which can help to enrich garden soil.

Some grocery stores used to have compostable bags for produce, but they costed more money so they stopped carrying them. I had some compostable bags, but they ripped and were not very useful. Its best to bring a cloth type bag for buying produce. A bag made of netting (such a bag which is used for delicate hand washable items) works well as a produce bag and can be washed in the washing machine. A small number of upscale stores still use compostable bags.

Updated: August 19, 2019  After seeing the report on 60 Minutes yesterday about plastic waste. I am even more discouraged. I see myself carefully saving up things like plastic bags and taking them to recycling centers only to find they can’t or won’t be recycled in America. These plastic are shipped to foreign countries who won’t recycle them. The giant ocean plastic cleaner failed to work, but it could work, but the problem is more and more plastic bags keep going into the ocean. There was woman who said we need catchment screen at the places in which rivers flow to the oceans, but that would stop fish and kill them. Who would be in charge of checking and changing the screens? The plastic situation is all so hopeless out of control that I have no idea what we should do or I could do if anything that would make a significant change. The giant plastic ocean cleaning machine is also made out of plastic tubes. I removed the link to 60 Minutes because it went down behind a paywall, but the plastic ocean cleaning machine was invented by Dutch inventor and engineer Boyan Slat.

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