Thought Tuesday

Learning My R’s

The little town of Salem is beginning to have some big city problems.  Trash.  Everywhere.  When we go to the Oregon beaches, we see trash.  As you drive down the street you see trash.  Trash is becoming a real issue.

I read that on average, Americans discard about 33.6 million tons of plastic waste each year.  No wonder there is trash everywhere!  That is just in America.  The amount of discarded plastic is so high there is a free floating trash island!  Gross!  Worldwide plastic production is increasing!  I started looking around my house… forks, spoons, car parts, computer parts, bags, brushes, dishes, tables, chairs… all made of plastic.  What happens to it when it breaks and is no longer useful?  I learned that most plastic is thrown out and not recycled.

This is stressing me out a bit.  After all, God did command that we “replenish” the earth, not TRASH the earth.  What have we done with His beautiful handy work?  The Savior used stories of a vineyard to teach His message.  I these stories the steward cared for the vineyard.  What have we done to care for His vineyard on earth?  Even the Boy Scouts teach “leave no trace”, no evidence of our use in the beauty of the earth.  The trash problem is getting to me.

Sweden has found a way to use all of the trash to the benefiit of their communities.  Why don’t we see these things in America?

Lilli and I were driving down the road, a road riddled with potholes, and I blurted out, “They should recycle all the plastic in the world and make it into plastic roads.  Lilli thought I was brilliant.  However, I am not the first person to come up with this idea.

When I got home, I did a little research.  I learned that the idea of roads being made of recycled plastic is not a new idea.  I learned that a company in Scotland turns plastic trash into pellets and then makes roads.

I learned  that in India,  they are experimenting with using plastic bottles and bags to make roads and thereby improving roads and the trash issues in their country.

I learned that using recycled plastic to build roads could help the trash problem; could strengthen the surface of roads; could reduce landfill waste; could improve drainage; reduce pothole and crack repair; reduce road noise; and could introduce employment opportunities in waste management, research, and road construction.  Sounds like a win-win to me.  So why isn’t the American people working on reducing their impact on the planet in this way?  Why are other countries taking the lead on this front?

Well… I can’t wash and process all the plastic.  I can’t pave all the roads.  I can’t build a trash powered power plant.  However, I can reduce, reuse and recycle.  I can burn burnables.  I can put kitchen waste in the compost.  I can use reusable water bottles.  I can recycle clothing.  I can clean and sort my recycling before putting the trash in the recycle bins.  I can use glass containers and ceramic dishes.  I can use the clothesline in the summer.  I can reduce the amount of “stuff” Ii own and refrain from getting more.  I can care for the belongs I own and keep them in good repair.  I can care for the plants in my yard.  When I buy new things,  I can support people who create from recycled items.

I can make a difference… at least in my own little part of the world.

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