By Kanchan NaikDays, nights, seasons, years. The natural clock ticks against the earth, every passing moment slipping out of our fingers. This manipulated, misused version of the earth that we have grown accustomed to holds nothing but a sense of inevitability — an echo of the centuries of mistakes we have made as a civilization. There is no more time left to throw our environmental responsibilities upon another future generation. There is no more time left to divert our sense of duty towards the planet. There is no more time left to distance ourselves from the pollutants and waste that always manage to creep back into everyday human life.There is, in short, no more time left except for now.Now, we must begin to acknowledge the widespread issue that has manifested itself in the mountains of landfill waste in polluted rivers and overflowing trash cans. As a community, our recycling habits cause major buildups of trash in local recycling centers. The problem? No one seems to understand quite where to put things. This general ignorance is somewhat understandable, since one gray bin filled with discarded materials is often seemingly homogeneous to the next. Yet, a small error affects the productivity of recycling machines, which cannot reduce certain substances.
The solution? Before chucking that glass soda bottle (“Kobe!”), check the bottom of container. Usually, there will be some indication of whether the material can be recycled or not. A “this cup is recycle-friendly” on the side of that Starbucks cup you’re holding is your green light. However, if there is a number at the bottom, like on some plastic water bottles, it is vital that you understand which “numbers” of plastic are acceptable in your community. In most Bay-Area cities such as Pleasanton and Dublin, types 1 and 2 are acceptable in your recycling bin. Remember, if you are not sure of where to put your plastic, the trash is most likely your best option — the alternative poses a risk to our recycling centers.The rulebook is a bit different for certain food containers. For instance, paper milk cartons, a staple in the daily school lunch, contain a sort of “glue” to retain its shape. Unfortunately, the supposedly recycle-friendly milk cartons are, in reality, incompatible with our local recycling centers, along with aerosol cans, packaging, and drink boxes (yes, those Capri-Suns that made your childhood beautiful belong in the trash can. Yes, they’re still delicious.) Tea bags and coffee filters, although paper-made, must be disposed of in a yard waste/food scraps bin.Checking the back of your water bottle will not reverse the oil spills of our predecessors or the deforestation promoted by our ancestors. Recycling cannot turn the clock back in time. But it will move us forward by taking advantage of the (very limited) time we have now. A “quick-fix” can never immediately solve a big problem, but a slow, gradual one — with the conscious effort of an entire community — certainly can. For more information about recycling rules in Pleasanton, click here.
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