So, it's 11pm on the night before our weekly trash pickup, and I'm reminding my husband that the cardboard rolls which paper towels come on really are recyclable, when he turns to me and asks the perfectly good question that I don't have an answer to, Come on, do you really think that these things get recycled, where do they go?? They go to . to to I have no idea, I admitted. That's how it started.
Right then and there I decided I had to find out for myself what kind of journey my recycling takes. I made a few calls, picked up a hard hat and arranged to hitch a ride with my local recycling truck driver Mr. Brown, who's been driving garbage trucks for 41 years.
I rode along with Mr. Brown and we checked out my neighbor's recycling bins, which may or may not be illegal, not sure, and we took a tour of the center in my area. I learned things I never dreamed of. Actual human beings sort through and separate our waste. And those paper towel cardboard rolls? They get shipped to China where they become insulation for houses. That was just the tip of the iceberg, although if climate change keeps up at it's current pace, we'll have to think of a new phrase to replace that one.
Of course, as is typical of most people, approximately 30% of the items I had collected for recycling didn't make the cut and had to be shipped to the landfill, so I accompanied my detritus to it's final resting spot in my local landfill where it joins the 8000 tons of garbage a day in the Sunshine Canyon landfill.
This experience has transformed my formerly unconscious act of throwing things away and I invite you to watch the video I made of this journey. Since taking this trip, I just can't purchase things I don't think I positively need - which has led to numerous uncomfortable and loud moments with my 9 year old as we stand in check out lines and gaze at those junky but enticing little toys they place by the registers, but I have to confess, my worst wasting sin is buying joke gifts. It's just not that funny once you find out that that ironic Moses Action Figure will reside on the planet long after you've left the earth.
I'd like to know what you've thrown away that haunts you? Put your computer in the bin? Trashed an old cell phone? Dumped your skinny jeans in the can? An entire catered dinner that went uneaten? A bad luck pair of shoes? Go ahead and write in and confess right here!.
Actress, writer and eco-webizen Annabelle Gurwitch posts ironic, thought-provoking webisodes about going green on TheDailyGreen.com. Neither a scientist nor a treehugger, although she knows plenty of both. She is the author of Fired! Tales fo the Canned, Cancelled, Downsized and Dismissed. TV fans will remember her from TBS' Dinner and a Movie. Annabelle is the host of WA$TED, premiering on Planet Green in June.
"My Recycling Road Trip" is a production of Hearst Entertainment Productions, Los Angeles.
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