National Recycling Week really gets me on a band wagon and the Chinese ban on our dirty recyclables has taken things to a whole new level. But China is a whole other story and more about poor infrastructure management & foresight and this article is about entrenched beliefs in changing times and the thin green line of eco fact & fiction.National Recycling Week for me is the 'haven't you been paying attention' bandwagon. The thing is that while the week is a great way to focus attention on recycling, it's not dealing anywhere near the real problem or solution & I reckon it's actually helping to make us stupid about recycling. (That should start a fight, right there.) AS WE ALL STAND KNEE DEEP IN A GROWING PILE OF PLASTIC BOTTLES, SHOPPING BAGS & PACKAGING, MORE AND MORE CONSUMERS, AND THEY AREN'T ALL DEEP GREENS, ARE COMING TO REALISE THAT RECYCLING IS A BIT LAST YEAR, LIKE NATIONAL RECYCLING WEEK STILL HELD IN 2ND WEEK OF NOVEMBER EACH LAST YEAR. The good news for recycler fans is that what's on during the week seems to be consistent. Same solid recycle hints, tips & options cheerily presented along with a suitably long list of recycled recycling options like bulky items council collections, tours of the local rubbish tip and visits to the Tip Shop. But in the end, it all does make you start to wonder what the week is actually celebrating. In all fairness there were some really good workshops being promoted, even though these workshops are pretty much going on somewhere nearby most days of the week, all year, already. Like bee keeping, composting and worm farming. Still, one assumes that the week draws attention to them and that has to be a good thing. And there are some rather excellent specific events - Art Competitions using recycled materials, along with my personal fav, Make a Tiny Insect Hotel from a Tin Can. I'd love to have done that.But in the end, the real problem with promoting recycling per se (and here comes a metaphor), is that promoting it is a bit like promoting accidental teenage pregnancy. Yep. I mean that. The thing is that once presented with an accidentally pregnant teenager - and before anyone starts getting sanctimonious about me using silly pregnant teenagers as an example - just to let you know, I have been one and have the evidence to prove it. The thing about accidental pregnant teens is that once the event has happened, there is no turning back. So when the teen turns up pregnant ipso facto, the focus is on what to do next. The facts are that there are really only a few options, and even while nothing specific might be said, in truth, no one is really comfortable with any of the options because in reality, all options are simply making the best of a bad situation. This all begs the question of what would happen if the same teen could actually stop at the point of the opportunity for conception and, knowing all the consequences, make an informed decision about whether she was going to go ahead. Obviously most wouldn't. Some might, but most wouldn't.RECYCLE IS THE 'R' OF LAST RESORT, BEHIND - REFUSE | RETHINK | REUSE | RE-PURPOSE | REDUCE. THE FACTS ARE THAT IT SIMPLY MAKES MORE SENSE TO GET OUT A CONDOM AND DON'T REPRODUCE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
The entire recycling movement is about dealing with the issues caused by the problem, not the problem itself. And that means that there isn't anything particularly sustainable or mindful about recycling really. No matter how good the recycle solutions are or how good they make us feel. Which brings me to this thing called casual recyclism. In truth, recycling generally creates more recycling as we recycle and we don't even realise we are feeding it.
Mad as this sounds, casual recyclism is actually very common and there is an excellent example on the National Recycling Week website.On the NRW site, there are some great tips for Business & Workplace and one of the pieces of advice is supported by a pic and video of a bunch of office workers loitering cheerily at a paper recycle bin, tossing in their paper & mags and doing a thing called a Friday File Fling. The idea of a Friday File Fling is that you line up your team with all the office filing cabinets and get the team to relieve the cabinets of their paper contents. Apparently 9 out of 10 pieces of paper stored in filing cabinets is never used, so into the bin it goes.And guess what happens next?One year, National Recycle Week and Planet Ark were so pleased with your Filing Cabinet flinging efforts that they were rewarding you with a special prize of 5 cartons of (their own branded) paper to celebrate! This is not a joke. It's true. And it's casual recyclism at work.For 20 workplaces, by tossing out the old paper you didn't use, Planet Arc (the recycle advocates) gave you more paper you apparently needlessly use, to put in the same place you never look, so you can recycle it all again next year.
On that note, I'll leave you to ponder how casual recyclism has become part of our everyday psyche - to the point where Australia's biggest recycling advocate will reward you with more of the very thing they just talked you into tossing out because you didn't need it. When all we really need is to do something directly about it. (And tempting as it is, I am not going to cross reference the teenage metaphor in relation to this office fling thing. But you can.)Image National Recycle Week
This is gold!
Tuesday, 13 November 2018