Recycling Woes

by Layla Blockcolski

Article by Layla Blockcolski. Photo by Abby Conn.

“They were overwhelmingly excited about it,” said Jennifer McClintock, a spokesperson for the city’s recycling. In 2017 the new program was getting ready to launch, and by 2018 they were able to distribute over 190,000, 96-gallon green recycling bins throughout the city.   

Oklahoma recyclers are constantly fighting misinformation on recycling’s success and overall value. Critics and detractors claim that the materials we send off to be recycled are not actually being recycled, and that it’s not worth our time. 

“There is all sorts of bad press around recycling. It is not a perfect system, and above all it is an industry,” Sherman said. 

Common household things like plastic bottles, milk jugs, paper and cardboard boxes are regularly recycled. 

“A lot of the bad information we see is related to larger global or nationwide issues that don’t necessarily apply to our program locally,” McClintock said. 

Recycling gives a lot of barely used materials another life. 

“If you can reuse it why wouldn’t you?” Sherman agreed. 

But sometimes it takes a little extra effort before something can be put out on the curb. Some materials need to be cleaned and/or rinsed, including plastic, glass, and cans. Cardboard boxes should be broken down. 

“I think some people just hesitate because there is a misperception that it is difficult,” McClintock said. 

It’s not only important to think about how we recycle, but also why we recycle. There are a lot of 

environmental reasons, but it also boils down to the rise in the cost of waste removal that would result from more landfill space being used. 

“We also like to bring that reason to who we are locally, and look at sparing and prolonging the use of our current landfills for as long as possible,” McClintock said. 

Opening a new landfill is a huge process, and a lot of money goes into it. The cost for new landfill space would cause prices to go up for both household and company waste removal.

If you don’t currently recycle, it can be a good idea to look into recycling companies that service the area you live. In larger cities like Oklahoma City and Tulsa, there are multiple services that can allow you to recycle; you just have to find the company or recycling center that works best for you. It can be harder for smaller towns, but there are ways to recycle in those areas, and companies like Green Teens are experimenting with recycling for smaller towns. 

“It’s not a perfect system, but if you don’t contribute, it’s definitely not going to improve,” Sherman said. 

Recycling is a great way to help, but it can also be good to experiment with other things as well. 

as well as using reusable materials instead of one use when you have the opportunity to. Some of these can include plastic bags, single-use eating utensils, single-use plastic bottles, and so on. When you have the opportunity, consider switching out these materials for a higher-quality, multiple-use products. 

Using reusable bags is another great way to start. Instead of using plastic bags, bring your own reusable bags with you when you go shopping. This is better for the environment and can be easier for you as well. Reusable bags are usually bigger than plastic bags, and are easier to carry and look through.

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