Learning About the CVWMA

Here’s the plastic bottle video! It’s cute! And effective.

I learned a lot from our guest lecturer, Nancy Drumheller. I did not know that the recycling here in Richmond is single stream! I have been separating all my paper and cardboard waste out and bagging it separately all this time! In my hometown you have to separate everything. My dad always made me break down the boxes and separate everything. It’s ingrained now to do that. I thought it was cool that the drivers get paid based on how much stuff they pick up, that should inspire the community to recycle more so that the drivers get paid more! You would think that is an easy way to help the economy. Also, I knew that landfills got capped off, but I just didn’t realize that that stopped everything from breaking down and being composted. But it makes sense if you’re cutting off the air! I wonder if it would be better to not cap a landfill and just let it sit. Or establish a landfill for food waste, and not mix it with other waste so that it’s easier to dispose of. Maybe we should take that extra step to separate our waste even further.

It is amazing how much we throw away in America though. I try not to waste anything, but it’s hard. Everyday you’re bombarded with ads on television, in magazines, or even on the radio telling you to buy stuff. You guys have probably heard the term “throwaway society” to describe our economy. My high school AP Environmental Studies teacher gave us bags and told us to throw away all our waste into them for a day to see how much we throw away. It was a cool experiment. I think Americans throw away more stuff than any other country. I’ll have to get my dad to email me the picture, but he was in Brasil and their weekly trash pickup was about the size of a Kroger plastic bag. I’ll post it here later!

I wanted to find some statistics on recycling in America, and I found this website called Keep America Beautiful. It says that in 2009, Americans recovered 34% of its waste from that year. That seems like a low number, but it’s actually high: that’s 82 million tons. KAB says this amount of recycling reduces our CO2 emissions to the equivalent of taking 33 million cars of the road. Recycling employs people, and even generates revenue from selling the materials. KAB says the industry is growing, too.

I can’t imagine why people don’t recycle. It’s 2013! I think it really depends how you were brought up though. My mom only recycles because my dad takes it out and everything. She wasn’t raised in a household that recycles. I cringe every time I go to my grandma’s and see her using a Styrofoam plate. But my dad is big on recycling, and I was raised to care about it, so now I do it for me and my roommate. I’d say that folks who are 18-25 and don’t recycle probably live in a big apartment building, don’t have their own place, or don’t want to buy a bin. If the CVWMA wanted to reach more people, and get more people to recycle, they could do what VCU does: put recycling bins around the city. Recycling in the dorms were easy because VCU has bins all over campus, you just have to walk a block and toss in your junk. I think that the city has trash cans on some blocks around the city, they could put recycling bins. I think there are even bins like that at Kroger, but this way people don’t have to drive their waste far outside the city. I’m not sure if places do this, but you could give the bins away for free.

Lastly, you have to make recycling cool. I know when my friends don’t have recycling, I give them a hard time about it. “Oh, you don’t recycle? I thought everyone recycled.” I don’t think there needs to be any incentives to recycle. Maybe recycling needs a good campaign, or slogan, like “Just do it!” Just recycle. It’s really not that hard.


2 responses to “Learning About the CVWMA”

  1. mckennast says :

    I think you make a lot of very interesting points. I’d like to add that some people don’t recycle because they don’t see the economic or environmental benefits of it. Also, I think a lot of people just don’t know anything about it. When I did a play in first grade on recycling they did not really teach us anything about recycling. The play was supposed to be for the parents I guess. My parents never came to see it, so maybe that’s why they don’t recycle. They never learned about it from my play!
    We do create a ridiculous amount of garbage everyday. There is no easier way to see that than to work in a restaurant. We throw away like 20 bags of trash a day. I have asked about recycling at the restaurant and switching from styrofoam to paper-based packaging and I have been laughed at and made fun of and called a tree-hugger. Some people just do not care at all and they definitely do not see recycling or caring about the environment as cool. We need cool people to tell everyone else that it is cool. Maybe we need to bring Johnny Cash back from the dead and tell him he needs to do a PSA on recycling for us.

  2. carbonconnections says :

    I thought this made a lot of sense when I skimmed it. We are looking forward to working with some psychology folks next semester to answer some of the questions you guys are commenting on.

    Accessibility was a common thread in your posts. I have heard similar comments from others in the class who lived in apartment buildings big and small. Luckily for me each place I have been there has already been recycling set up, I always thought it was just part of my bill but can never find it on the bill. Thanks for putting a little thought into this!

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