Stop Recycling and Start Rethinking Your Consumption

I have been a long-time believer in recycling. I even defended the recycling industry when friends questioned my strong held views. So why the shift? Because like many things in our current society, recycling has been corrupted by corporate and government greed. My investigative report started with this article, in the Canton Repository, and the Proposed Route 30 extension/relocation.

Key points:

  • Recycling industry has been tainted by lobbyists and corporate greed as plastics are produced by the oil and gas industry
  • Chasing Arrows recycling symbol is largely misused and not properly regulated by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission)
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Landfills are hidden, more misinformation from labels


  • Limiting your own consumption and reuse your own containers
  • BYO cups to coffee shops and bags to stores
  • Create new businesses that repurpose, reuse and rethink post-consumer goods
  • Businesses like micro-breweries take glass back and reuse it

Backing Plastics is the Oil and Gas Industry

I learned what an ethane cracker plant was, and that one was built recently near me. I was doing my usual investigative journalism thing on an infrastructure project in my town (Canton, Ohio). Turns out a Shell Petrochemical Plant was at the “other end” of the roadway extension. A Ethane cracker plant is responsible for created the base material for everything plastic. Here’s a great article on the increase of ethane cracker plants leading to the increase of natural gas fracking and climate change. Contrary to what you hear about fixing climate change, they aren’t walking the walk. Experts say plastic production will be triple by 2050, and yet, many climate goals are also planned for by 2050. I’m sure they’ll be able to buy carbon credits for their awful ethane cracker plants. So what’s it gonna be? Plastic or the planet?

Recycling Propaganda

I used to love watching “How Things Work” videos about recycling, and I believed them hook-line-and-sinker. I had no idea the plastics industry (and oil and gas industry) were the ones producing those shows and making recycling commercials. They want you to believe is that you can just keep on consuming and as long as you recycle, you’re still saving the planet. Well, that isn’t working any longer. Truth-seekers everywhere are finding that trash, especially plastic, is piling up in our waterways, and ending up in the ocean. This obscene truth cannot be hidden any longer. The chasing arrows recycling symbol is being misused and not properly regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.

Lawsuits are ensuing against major manufacturers who have the ‘chasing arrows’ symbol on their plastics, however no recycling center anywhere will take it for recycling. Take the Kathleen Smith vs. Keurig case, she brought a law suit against the single-use coffee pod company because their marketing touts your ability to recycle the pods, but it’s nearly impossible to do so, according to many articles I read on the subject.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

“Problems that we don’t see are better than the ones we see.” Amy Kunkle. Yes, I just made that up because it seems like if we don’t see it, then it’s ok. Take landfills for instance. We hardly ever see where our trash goes, and rarely ever see the trash in our oceans either because it’s such a sad sight that we can hardly bear it. My friend recently attended a master recycler workshop where they explicitly told the attendees that glass isn’t really recycled either. Only about 33% of glass is recycled, and largely because of the lack of glass processing plants in the US. #businessidea

Solutions for Recycling Woes

Curb Your Consumption

The first of my solutions is to curb your consumption. I know it’s the last thing we want to hear, but it’s the first thing we should be considering. However, I for one love taking my girls to Dunkin and Starbucks, so we have started keeping our plastic cups at home and reusing them. I think we will also try bringing them back to see if they will just reuse our plastic cups when we get new drinks. It’s  not the best solution, but if they each get one cup a week then at least we are keeping those from the landfill. I’d rather see them floating in my kitchen sink than in the ocean.

BYO bags and cups

I think the most prevalent plastics in the ocean are plastic bags and straws. So, consider bringing your own reusable bags to shop and bring your own cups (and straws)  to coffee shops and bags to stores.

Become an Environmental Entrepreneur

Create new businesses that repurpose, reuse and rethink post-consumer goods. In this ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) world, we should be rewarded for creating companies that start businesses creating goods and services in the world. Real, authentic ones that help the planet. Not green-washed ones. Be one of the good guys/gals and start a business.

Bring Back Glass Deposits

With the huge increase in micro-breweries and local beer breweries we could be “lobbying” their support in bringing back deposits on glass bottles. Businesses like micro-breweries could take glass bottles back and reuse them. Yay! problem solved. Or we could build an Earthship house with walls made of glass bottles like this one:

Any way you look at it, if we would just act like nothing is recyclable, we would be better off and not just “kick the can” down the road for our kids and grandkids to deal with.

Thanks for watching/reading.