The Plasticene Era

Written by guest author JoeAnn Hart. Originally posted on her blog Float

It’s so hopeless,” a young friend said, tossing a plastic water bottle in the trash. “I don’t believe in recycling.”

“Don’t believe?” I said, reaching into the garbage. “I didn’t know it was a religion.”

“It’s a faith. A faith that you’re doing the right thing. A feel-good gesture that masks a larger problem.”

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As I dropped the bottle into the recycling receptacle, I felt that familiar spike of serotonin from having done my bit for the environment, and I knew she was right. Self-satisfaction with our little actions can keep us from taking up the larger, more difficult, actions. Recycling is grossly inefficient. Every year, Americans throw away three-hundred pounds of plastic per person, only ten percent of which gets recycled, and poorly recycled at that. Not only is it down-cycled into something like decking material, it uses an inordinate amount of energy in the process, as we truck empty water bottles all over the country. All this so we can re-use a toxic material? When we die, our bodies will decompose into a bit of carbon and methane. Plastic never disappears. It breaks down into smaller bits of polymer, releasing pseudo-estrogens and other hazardous chemicals in the process, until it is the size of a single molecule. This is where the waste stream meets the food chain. The molecules enter the water table under the landfills where they make their way to the sea, to be devoured by fish fooled into thinking it’s plankton. Then we eat the fish.

Read more: See JoeAnn’s blog Float for the rest of the story. JoeAnn is the author of the recently published novel Float.

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Cover Artist Karen Ristuben

About Kim Smith

Currently creating documentary films about the Monarch Butterfly, Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and Gloucester's Feast of St. Joseph. Landscape designer for the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens. Designer, lecturer, author, illustrator, photographer. Visit my blog for more information about my landscape and interior design firm- kimsmithdesigns.wordpress.com. Good Morning Gloucester daily contributor. Author/illustrator "Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden"
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One Response to The Plasticene Era

  1. Patti Amaral aka litterlady says:

    Right on, as a city we are doing our oceans wrong, not having recycling bins next to EVERY trash barrel is wrong. As a litterpickerupper I am saddened by this and all the litterbugs that live in our beautiful city. Come On People Pick it Up……

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