Thursday, April 29, 2010

Remember to Recycle

Letter to the Editor of the Carlisle Mosquito

Thank you to the organizers and sponsors of the 2010 Mosquito Trash Party. As a first-year participant, I found it a satisfying and surprising experience.

Having surveyed the litterscape while walking to Trash Party Central, I was confident one bag would be plenty for my trash mile. I was wrong. That lone bag was stuffed to overflowing by the time I finished.

Fifteen minutes along my Trash Party trail, the value of trash as an archeological treasure trove was clear. The haul from this grimy pursuit was type-consistent. Aside from the odd, sodden t-shirt (Men’s, X Large), and a trash lid most likely flipped from its container during its trip to or from the Transfer Station, the bulk of items fell into one category: beverage containers. The containers consisted of a variety of plastic bottles (recyclable, non-redeemable) and aluminum beer cans (redeemable or recyclable). Virtually all of these finds were in the vacant spaces between homes, suggesting the litterers were just passing through and showing their respect by not throwing their trash onto our lawns. The story of this roadside trash is one of abundance and a disposable culture.

It’s ironic that while some are urging legislation to “Drill, baby, drill” for oil, plastic bottles are made of PET which is 99% petroleum. Over 1 billion containers a year are littered or thrown into incinerators or landfills in Massachusetts alone. It’s estimated that the energy used to replace the 134 billion discarded beverage containers in the US in 2005 is equivalent to 50 million barrels of crude oil. While a nickel deposit isn’t worth some peoples’ while even in down times, the aluminum in those beer cans, as well as PET plastic, are two of the more highly valued recyclable stocks.

Passing an update to the 1982 Bottle Bill to include contemporary containers and switching to reusable, non-BPA bottles are steps in the right direction for dealing with this problem. Short of those measures, we need to diligently redeem or recycle what we use. Don’t let valuable, finite resources go up in Wheelabrator smoke. Please.

Launa Zimmaro

Lowell Street

Carlisle Sierra Club Committee, Chair

Member of Carlisle Household Recycling Committee

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