It's 2019, People! Rethink What You Buy BEFORE You Think About Recycling

It’s 2019, People! Rethink What You Buy BEFORE You Think About Recycling

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series written by Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Got a question or idea for a recycling tip? Contact Jarland at 630-208-3841 or

Whew, teaching people about recycling sure does entail a lot of repeating! To my long-term readers I may begin to sound like a broken record.

ReThink waste. Reduce waste. Recycle right!

I’ve said this before, too. What makes something recyclable has two parts:

  • It must be able to be sorted using present technology.
  • There must be an end market — a viable place to send it, where folks will make it into something else.

The biggest problem with recycling is the volume of contaminates in the recycling bin (meaning there is garbage / non-recyclable material in there). And the worst of the non-recyclables is plastic stuff.

Adding to the stress on the recycling industry are all of the new forms of plastic packaging — many of which can be neither sorted nor have a viable market. Further complicating things are commodity values, ever in flux, which may drop suddenly and drastically at any time and disrupt the functioning of the whole system.

For all of these reasons, it is more important now than ever to diligently return to the basics and recycle right.

But the real solution to our wastefulness lays beyond that. We need to stop the avalanche of consumer goods and packaging that’s being churned out the back end of our abundant lifestyles!

But how?

Mainly, we need to commit to rethinking our purchases. In other words, you should bring consciousness to your consumer habits.

Stop buying all of the plastic-wrapped plastic products. Look for different options that are not wrapped in plastic or, hey, maybe you can go without that gizmo.

Refuse the straw, the bag, the receipt. If you’re really into it, try a plastic-free year.

For further inspiration, check out The Story of Stuff. “The Story of Stuff, originally released in December 2007, is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns.

The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the Stuff in your life forever.”