GOOD
The GOOD Guide to Recycling

Why Do We Throw Out 70 Percent of Our Plastic Waste?

Maybe a single bottle isn’t so inconsequential after all.

Image via Flickr user Peter Kaminski (cc).

Like a lot of Americans, you probably purchase the occasional product in a plastic container, then put forth a good effort to toss it in a blue recycling bin once you’re done. Yet that action can sometimes feel inconsequential. What difference does a single bottle or milk container here or there really make?

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How to Get Companies to Care About Recycling? Get the Shareholders on Board

"Packaging can be up to 50 percent of a company’s total [carbon] footprint."

"Packaging can be up to 50 percent of a company’s total [carbon] footprint." Which is why As You Sow is urging companies to turn the waste they generate into a renewable resource. Image via Flickr user Tony Webster (cc)

Though California has one of the highest recycling rates in the nation, America generates more waste than any other country in the world and recycles less. The severity of this issue drives one of the pet projects of As You Sow, a corporate social responsibility (CSR) business. Founded in 1992, As You Sow has become an instigator of of corporate environmental responsibility, leading measurable change in the beverage packaging sector. As You Sow’s vision holds that shareholders are “the single most powerful force for creating positive, lasting changes in corporate behavior.” Thus, they make proposals directly to shareholders, and issue an annual report card that rates companies on their recycling and sustainability efforts. Their efforts have had a positive impact on sustainability efforts of the three biggest beverage companies, Coca Cola, Nestlé Waters, and Pepsi, since 2006.

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Algalita's Ship-2-Shore education program aims to demystify recycling. Image courtesy Algalita.

In 1999, Algalita founder Captain Charles Moore put his small California environmental nonprofit on the map when he was the first to sample the surface waters of what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Since then, the California-based organization has dedicated itself to research and education about plastic pollution in the waterways with the belief that they can solve the problem with the right public outreach and in collaboration with other organizations and scientists. Considering that over 80 percent of marine debris originates from sources on land, there’s no time to waste.

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Here’s Why It’s a Good Idea to Pay Attention to the Plastic You Buy

There’s more to those symbols on the bottom of plastic containers than meets the eye.

Chances are, you’ve bought a plastic container at some point in your life—and since it had those three little arrows on the bottom, you figured you could recycle it. But those symbols mean a lot more than you think. They tell you what kind of plastic a product is made from, and even how recyclable it is. The truth is, recycling doesn’t start at the blue bin. It starts the moment you make a purchase. Watch this video to find out how to be smarter at recycling. It’s easier than you think.

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