Q&A : Status of Recycling in the U.S.A

I recently had the pleasure of breaking up the monotony of quarantine life with a Q&A from a local HS student regarding what I've learned from creating For Future Generations and Plastic Free Buffalo. I'd love to hear from you as well, How are you handling the quarantine & the fight against plastic pollution? Have you noticed a change in how you've had to handle your recyling weekly?

With your experiences creating For Future Generations, can you describe to me your views on recycling and how it could affect our future? With my experience creating and researching plastic pollution in order to create For Future Generations: A plastic pollution study of Lake Erie, I believe that it is 100% necessary for the citizens of the United States to have the power to recycle as many house hold items as possible. Currently recycling standards vary pending which state you reside within, we need a national recyling program to be written into law. I believe that there needs to be more education in each county in all states regarding what is recyclable, why and why not some items are recyclable, and how citizens could petition their local governments to allow more plastics, glasses, and paper products to be recycled in their counties. Additionally I would like to see more products which are produced to hold our fresh non local produce, various drinks and liquids, frozen foods and house hold cleaners be created with materials that are non toxic and can easily biodegrade within 1-10 years. I believe that lifestyle changes such as reducing the amount of plastics and non recyclable or biodegradable items is our first step towards empowering our citizens to change their lifestyles (if possible monetarily) as well as provide the first steps for petitioning local governments and businesses. Lastly, I would like to add that if we had national composting program, this would also be a great benefit to our local environments and could be useful in the summer for our gardens. Toronto has a composting program (weekly), and then provides the compost to the public in parks where citizens can then collect the compost for their gardens! This is a great way to cut down on organic material going into our landfills.

Do you believe the availability of resources to properly recycle is in fact limited in areas? Yes I do believe and know that the availability, education, and federal support is lacking in all states and counties across the United States. We can do better. We should have a national recycling program in the United States, and I also believe that we should have more recyling plants in the United States versus depending on other countries to take on the task of recyling our products. I strongly believe that the accountability of products which can and cannot be recycled should begin with the companies that choose to produce and or use products which can or cannot be recycled.

How could recycling impact our planet and us, as humans, just on a local scale? Locally, if we reduced the amount of products we purchased that need to be recycled we would see a huge positive shift in regards to the safety and health of our ecosystems, waterways, and of our citizens and wildlife. If we reduced the amount of items we purchased that need to be recycled, I know we would see a huge decrease in the amount of recyclable and non recyclable plastic materials I find at Emerald beach and see littered across our City. The local government managing Buffalo needs to improve the recycling program to ensure that our citizens are educated on the proper procedures of recyling and ensure that when we place items in the recyling that they do not escape the bin and litter our environment. I have seen garbage and recyling bins fallen over at the water front, and spilled trash around them. There is a solution to this issue, one idea could be creating a heavy base that the bins rest in, in high wind areas etc.

Do you believe recycling should be a requirement? Do you agree with my reasoning's? Yes, the federal government should put into law a national recycling program that also includes composting to reduce the amount of organic trash we place into landfills daily.