16 March 2010

Our guest tonight is Jennifer Arbuckle. She is the Public Outreach Coordinator for Northern Recycling and Waste Services, and we’re going to talk to her about the world of recycling.

Listen to the program.

Recent News About Recycling

The Website “How Stuff Works” tells us that recycling is an ancient concept and has been valued when goods were less readily available. “Prior to the industrial age, you couldn’t make goods quickly and cheaply, so virtually everyone practiced recycling in some form. However, large-scale recycling programs were very rare — households predominantly practiced recycling. . . .

“In the 1930s and 40s, conservation and recycling became important in American society and in many other parts of the world. Economic depressions made recycling a necessity for many people to survive, as they couldn’t afford new goods. In the 1940s, goods such as nylon, rubber and many metals were rationed and recycled to help support the war effort. However, the economic boom of the postwar years caused conservationism to fade from the American consciousness [source: Hall]. It wasn’t until the environmental movement of the 1960s and 70s, heralded by the first Earth Day in 1970, that recycling once again became a mainstream idea.”


And from last November’s UK Telegraph, Paul Stokes reports on a springer spaniel who won a civic award for recycling litter. Here’s the story:

A dog who picks up litter from a town’s streets and deposits it for recycling has been officially recognised for his services to the community.

Sonny, a nine year old springer spaniel, has collected rubbish since he was a pup before being taught to dispose of it in recycling bins at his home.

During that time he has recovered hundreds of plastic bottles, cans, wrappers and other refuse dropped in Scunthorpe, Lincs.

The local authority has now included him in its annual environmental awards which honour volunteers who keep their neighbourhood clean.

His owners Sharon Smith and her husband Tony, 52, a steelworker, accompanied him at North Lincolnshire council chamber for the presentation.

Sonny received a framed certificate bearing his name, a special rosette, a bag of plastic toys and dog treats.

Mrs Smith, 48, a specialist community nurse, said: “He is such a scavenger and he’s always picking up rubbish in the hope of finding something edible.

“We taught him to put things in the bin rather than ripping them to pieces and it started to become a bit of a game for him.”. . . .

Ms Smith added: “Every time he goes for a walk he brings back a can, plastic bottle, sandwich wrapper or other bit of litter and when we get home we ask him which bin it goes in and he drops it in the right bin every time – unlike the rest of the family.

“I knew springer spaniels were bright, but the first time he did it we were amazed, so I entered him for the environment awards.”


This report comes from the March 10 edition of CNN Online.  An article entitled “Lack of recycling and water usage are greatest ‘green guilts’” asks this question”:

“What causes the greatest amount of “green guilt” across the globe?”

The answer is provided by a Reader’s Digest poll:

“Not recycling enough was the number one response in 9 out of 15 countries surveyed, followed by wasting water.

A new global “Around the World” poll, conducted by Reader’s Digest and published in all of its 50 April editions worldwide, found that Brazil was the country where the largest number (42 percent) polled said they feel guilty about not recycling enough, followed by Malaysia and Russia (both 40 percent), China and the Netherlands (both 35 percent), and France (31 percent).

The United States and the Philippines (both 30 percent) ranked below them.

The most guilt in the survey was felt by the water-worried Spaniards.

Cosme Ojeda, editor of Reader’s Digest Spain, says, “In our arid country, we are all aware of the lack of water every day.”

India (39 percent) and Italy (30 percent) ranked behind them, but it was also their biggest concern.

Cristian Arratia, 28, of Blue Mountains, Australia, told the magazine, “I do stupid things like running the tap while I brush my teeth.”

The United States, which has the highest number of motor vehicles per capita of any nation on earth (844 per 1,000 people), also felt guilty about driving too much, according to 30 percent of Americans polled.

Fran Musetti, 58, of Clovis, California, said, “Our society has become too rushed, and that’s why we drive everywhere.”


And from the same edition of CNN online there’s a report related to a story we’ve been following over the past year. This article quotes David DeRothschild who is the originator of the Pastiki Project. The article is a helpful reminder:

“(CNN) — Every bit of fully synthetic plastic that’s ever been produced over the past 100 years is somewhere on our planet, a leading environmentalist, David de Rothschild, said Tuesday.

“De Rothschild, who’s about to set sail on a boat made of recycled plastic to highlight pollution in the Pacific Ocean, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour there has been a huge aggregation of small molecular-sized pieces of plastic in our atmosphere, in our oceans, or on our land since plastic was first produced in 1909.

“”We’re seeing them aggregating … and getting into the food chain, which is then transferring toxins back into us through the food we eat,” de Rothschild said.

“”We have this sort of voracious appetite for throwaway, single-use plastics, what I call Dumb Planet 1.0 plastics — the plastic bag, the Styrofoam cup.”

“De Rothschild said he will set sail on his boat, called the Plastiki, some time in the next 10 days, depending on the weather and other factors.

“His catamaran-style boat is made principally of 12,500 reclaimed plastic water bottles, which are designed to keep his vessel afloat, while the main frame is constructed from polyethylene terephthalate — a recyclable plastic material used in food and beverage containers and other products.

“His aim during a 100-day voyage that will take him from San Francisco, California, to Sydney, Australia, is to find the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” between California and Japan — a massive sea of plastic trash that environmentalists say could soon be larger than the continental United States.

“What I think people need to realize is that there are five (patches), not just one”, he added. “We are seeing a convergence zone in our oceans — the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and the west coast of Australia.”

He said he has two goals. The first is to raise public awareness of the huge amounts of plastic that are polluting the planet. The second is to get people to “reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink” those everyday items that people now throw away as garbage.”

The article also includes this eye-opening information:

Former Greenpeace activist Annie Leonard, author of the book “The Story of Stuff,” and host of an online video, said 99 percent of all the materials that flow through the production process becomes trash within six months.

Leonard said she loves “her stuff” as much as anyone. But she wants people to be more aware of where it comes from so everyone can be a little more conscious of all the materials that flow through our lives.

She also said there are great opportunities to help remedy the pollution situation — in the field of green chemistry, for example.

“Chemists are replacing toxic chemicals with brand-new molecules that are actually designed from the very molecular level to be compatible with ecological systems,” she said, “So that we can have glues and dyes and pigments that don’t poison the workers or the communities.” . . . .


Our Questions for Jennifer Arbuckle

Our guest tonight is Jennifer Arbuckle. She’s the Public Outreach Coordinator for Northern Recycling and Waste Services in Paradise. We’ve always had a million questions about recycling, and we’re happy to finally have someone to answer them.

  1. First tell us a little bit about Northern Recycling and Waste Services. What area do they serve? What sorts of recycling materials do they take?
  2. And what does your job of as Public Outreach Coordinator entail?
  3. We’ve come to taking recycling for granted as a regular part of our lives, but can you remind us of the benefits—both economic and ecological—of recycling?
  4. We’ve often been told what can be recycled and what can’t. Maybe you could run down the list of things that can’t be recycled and tell us a bit about why they can’t be recycled.
  5. In recent years here in California, we’ve become accustomed to being able to throw everything into one big bin and send it to the recycling center. I’ve always been curious about what happens to that mass of materials next. Can you describe what happens on the other end of those bins going to a recycling place? Where are those places and what happens there?
  6. Recycling companies have always asked customers to rinse their bottles and cans? Does everybody do that? How does it affect the operation if they don’t wash things?
  7. Can you explain the various kinds of plastic and the numerical rating system? What are the qualities of those different kinds of plastic? What happens to plastic?
  8. Your business doesn’t accept plastic bags or Styrofoam. Why not? What happens to those materials?
  9. What happens to glass? Does it get reused or melted down?
  10. And paper? What happens to it? I see that NRWS accepts juice and milk cartons? Doesn’t the wax or whatever the material that they’re coated in cause problems? And why aren’t paper towels and tissues acceptable?
  11. WeI see on NRWS’s website that there is also a Debris service for people who are doing big projects like house remodeling or other construction work. How does that work?
  12. And NRWS also does special events recycling? Steve also saw on the NRWS website that you’re the contact person for composting information. What does your job entail there?
  13. Steve also saw on the website that it’s possible to tour the recycling facilities. Can you tell us about that?

Playlist for Ecotopia #77: Recycling

1. Rag & Bone  3:48        The White Stripes     Icky Thump

2. Recycle Reuse Reduce 2:46 Heidi Howe    Give a Hootenanny!

3. reduce, reuse, recycle  3:35 The Junkman (Donald Knaack)      Junk Music 2

4. The 3 R’s  2:54               Jack Johnson     Sing-A-Longs & Lullabies For The Film Curious George

5. Love Etc. 3:32               Pet Shop Boys    Yes

6. Weave Me the Sunshine         4:28                Peter, Paul And Mary        The Very Best of Peter, Paul and Mary

7. Life Uncommon      4:57                    Jewel    Spirit