Recycling Must Become A Habit

Recycling Must Become A Habit
Rececle Bin
Recycle Bin

Recycle. Plastic. Ocean Debris.

Columbus, GA, Jan. 19, 2015 ( – These words, Recycle, Plastic, Ocean Debris, are some of the most popular words in our society today. They are spoken a multitude of times each day. They are written about in numerous publications on a daily basis. They are Tweeted too many times to count.

BUT – what action do we really take to make these words come alive? What action has been taken to make recycling plastic a common, everyday occurrence to help rid our oceans of plastic debris?

In almost every facet of our daily lives, we are aware that plastic was a great invention. Our lives are made so much easier and convenient because of plastic. Plastic is such a convenience!

BUT – what about the lives of marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, and fish whose lives have become so endangered because plastic is such a human convenience? What about the lives of camels, cows and other land animals who die from ingesting wayward plastic?

We humans seem to be willing to sacrifice all other planet life just to be able to get our plastic convenience.

So isn’t it time that we humans devised a real solution – rather than just talk about it? I have long believed that the plastic industry, which created this indestructible substance, can create a solution to eliminate it after its usefulness is done. Obviously, I have no proof of that – but I still believe it!

Meanwhile, until that solution is divulged, I believe that more humans will recycle if we make it more convenient. Laws have been passed in several states making recycling mandatory but the laws are not or can not be enforced. If a law is not enforced, then we may as well strike it from the books.

I remember when litter was so abundant across America, even though, many years before my memory, a national cleanliness campaign was begun. We all now know about “Keep America Beautiful” campaign which was actually started in 1953. However, the program never really took off until First Lady Lady Bird Johnson joined the campaign. (1)

Public service announcements were made continuously to further the campaign. But the one true ingredient that made the campaign so successful was the lowly trash can. A trash can was placed at most businesses and throughout public areas so that disposing of litter became convenient.

Eventually, throwing trash into trash cans became a habit - instead of tossing the trash on the side of the road. I believe the same success can happen with recycling. We just need to make recycling convenient. Put recycling bins beside every trash can and then keep making public service announcements about the convenience of recycling.

Convenient. The Key Word

After waste containers became so convenient, litter disposal became convenient. Americans didn’t have to search for a litter can – there was usually one close by.

Therefore, if litter cans worked for the litter campaign, then recycling bins will work for the recycle campaign! We already have – and long have had –  the recycle campaign. But where are the recycle bins?

There are constant reminders everywhere that we should recycle. But where are the recycle bins? Why do we always have to search for recycle bins? Why do we have to drive several miles to deposit our recyclables?

Imagine the litter campaign without convenient litter cans.

Convenient is the key word! Make recycling as convenient as plastic and recycling will happen! Put recycling bins at every business beside the trash cans. Put recycling bins in all public places.

To hell with sorting! We don’t sort our garbage so why should we sort recyclables? Single-stream recycling technology is abundant and in use in many places.

The City of Portland, Oregon implemented Public Place Recycling in 2011. In a report released this past Monday, the Portland Metro Area achieved an impressive 64.2% recovery rate. More than 64 percent of what businesses and residents threw away in 2013 was recovered through recycling, composting or energy generation.

Besides Public Place Recycling, Portland has executed several other programs that helped achieve this record recovery rate. The report also shows that per capita generation of waste has declined 12% since 2003. (2)

“People here get it,” stated Tom Hughes, Metro Council President. “The success we’re seeing is largely due to the choices people make every day by buying smarter, using what they buy and recycling what they can.”

The rest of the municipalities and jurisdictions across America must get with the program. Do what needs to be done! Make recycling convenient and recycling will happen!

Recycling Must Be As Convenient As Plastic!

Learn about Public Space Recycling:

10 TIPS from America Recycles Day

GOING PUBLIC  by Alec Cooley



(1) Keep America Beautiful, History and Timeline

(2) City of Portland, Oregon