Buried in plastic? Fight back
Have you attended a high school sporting event lately? If you have, you've no doubt noticed the increase in plastic litter - primarily for bottled water and sports drinks. The huge increase has not gone unnoticed by school custodians, who unfortunately are not encouraged to take the time to recycle them. Who is going to pay for their overtime?
Have you been to the grocery store lately? If you have, you've no doubt noticed that everything from dumplings to doughnuts is encased in plastic - primarily of the non-recyclable variety. The cost of the packaging is passed along to you there - and you pay again when you trash it.
Have you been to a big box store lately? If you have, you've no doubt noticed every little gadget is hermetically sealed in plastic and the larger items are nested in Styrofoam - some of it so large and sturdy it could be used as furniture. Once again, the cost gets passed along to you, the consumer. And, this doesn't include the environmental costs.
Fortunately, in Clackamas County, we can now recycle more plastics curbside. The county's franchised collectors will take your plastic bottles, plastic tubs and their lids, plastic nursery pots and 'bucket-style' tubs used for cat litter, laundry detergent and similar products. You just need to get those items into your recycling containers and out to the curb. But despite our best efforts, we still can't keep up with the manufacturers, who like plastics because they are cheap, lightweight and strong.
What can you do? No. 1: Reduce the amount of plastic you buy. In this region it is not necessary to buy bottled water. You pay more for it per gallon than you do for gasoline, and much of it comes from our own municipal water supply. No. 2: Reuse plastic containers whenever possible. No. 3: Recycle everything that's allowed and return plastic bags to your grocery store.
Once you've done that, fight back. Contact the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to make sure manufacturing lobbies don't wiggle out of the '25 percent threshold.' Right now, because of the glut of plastics, less than one out of every four plastic containers gets recycled, so the state is calling upon manufacturers to do their share.
Susan Terry is a resident of Lake Oswego.