"There is no such thing as "away." When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere." Annie Leonard
By now many people know that Your True Nature is a part of the ClimateWise movement in Fort Collins Colorado. ClimateWise is a free, voluntary program that helps businesses save money and reduce their impact on the environment through water conservation, waste reduction, alternative transportation, and social responsibility. Participants of ClimateWise have a goal of becoming more efficient while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It aligns with Your True Nature's belief to be thoughtful of those downstream.
In 1999 Ilan Shamir, the founder of Your True Nature, was one of the first businesses to take part in the ClimateWise program. For 16 years, our company has been an active part in the evolution of this challenge. Staff is encouraged to learn more about what we can do to improve our environment, which is why we visited the local recycling plant. What we learned there isn’t what you would expect. We discovered that recycling isn’t necessarily the best solution, in some instances reusing and re-purposing may be better.
People have good intentions when they recycle, but sometimes they’re intentions don’t pay off:
- Not every type of plastic is able to be recycled by your local recycling plant. Example: not all recycling centers can recycle plastic bottle caps, because they can ruin equipment
- Plastic bags and waxy food boxes are unable to be recycled.
- Tearing cardboard into small pieces wreaks havoc at the plant and greasy pizza boxes will just end up in the landfill.
- Sticky notes in recycling will contaminate a whole batch of paper, making them unrecyclable. Also small pieces of paper (smaller than a sticky note) shouldn't be recycled because they can't be organized.
- A good percentage of recycling ends up in the landfill because of one item contaminating a whole load. Even a little bit of water in that plastic bottle will contaminate a batch of recycling. Rinse the big food particles off without using too much water, wipe them with a towel, and remember NO Liquids!
- Don’t smash your cans down or flatten your containers (like milk), it makes sorting more difficult.
- Paper cups, like from Starbucks, have a lining of plastic and aren’t recyclable.
- If your recycling is in a plastic bag, it will go to the landfill. Workers don’t have time to tear the bag open and sort through your recycling. Closed bags are also a danger, because they don’t know if something inside can harm them (broken glass, needles, etc.).
To minimize the potential of recycling going to landfills, everyone should do their local research. Also, we all should all try to recycle less and instead reuse more. Buy in bulk using reusable containers, get take out less, eat less processed food (more packaging), or try doing some of the things we do at our office. Research how you can repurpose things like yogurt containers, bottles, and more.
At Your True Nature we use high-content post-consumer waste recycled paper in our products and in our office work. Then we plant 10 tree seedlings for each 217 pounds of recycled paper we use. In our shipping department, we reuse all boxes and packing material received in our warehouse. Our bathroom doesn’t contain paper towels, instead a nice cloth towel is used to dry our hands. Our recycle bin is bigger than our trash as we do recycle all paper, glass, plastic, etc.; that we are able to. When we can, some of us ride our bikes, the bus, or carpool to work. We also try to bring reusable coffee mugs and keep the lights off in the rooms we aren’t using.
We’ve learned that even the smallest changes can lead to a big impact. Little things that anyone can do at work or in their homes. Awareness is the key to being able to make these changes and if you have a love of Nature (like we do), you desire to protect the environment. Of course recycling is still important, but it has to be done right. A shift toward reusing materials is a step toward creating a less waste society and reducing the negative impact on the environment.
Reduce what you consume, change the world.