The astrologist Rob Brezsny says that putting plastic in the recycling bin "makes it far less likely that it will end up in the oceans" ("Free Will Astrology," Aug. 22). Far less likely than what? Throwing it in the bushes? Well, yeah, maybe. Throwing it in the trash? Actually, no. If you throw a piece of plastic in the trash in the United States, it will almost certainly end up buried in a landfill. If you throw it into the recycling bin, it may very well end up in a mountain of assorted recyclables and trash in an Asian country where poor people comb through it. This mountain could be situated right on the banks of a river.
Almost half of the plastic in the ocean is related to the fishing industry. Over half of the rest of it flows from just 10 rivers in the world — eight of them in Asia. But much of that plastic originates here.
The recycling industry is in crisis largely because of the way we mix together all different kinds of plastics, glass, aluminum, etc. Not to mention trash and garbage. All of this crap is bundled together and shipped to Asia where its fate can be chaotic.
When it comes to plastics, No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5 are the types most likely to be actually recycled, although there's no guarantee even then. I still believe in recycling but recycling programs should be drastically re-vamped.
Martha Walden, Westhaven
Heads up people. We have a recycling crisis. China quit taking our trash-laden recycling more than a year ago. According to Zero Waste Humboldt, a couple of years ago the only plastics that are recycled in the U.S. are No. 1, No. 2 and No. 5. We have not built the infrastructure to recycle any more than that. So all the plastic you throw in your recycling bin is mostly trash. Yes, it really is.
You might feel good putting it in the recycling bin but somewhere down the line, right now, it gets thrown away. So let's start putting it where it belongs. In the trash. It is a good way to come to grips with how much we really create. And with that awareness will come change. Support local recycling efforts in every possible way. We can't worry about other countries but we can be an example. Your neighbors might already be getting real, are you?
You have more power than you know. Start using it.
Katrina Martin, Trinidad