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Recycling is Dead

You can't imagine how hard it is for me to write that headline. I am from a long line of frugal Yankees who were reducing, reusing and recycling long before it had its own logo. This is a way of life for me. Hell, I built a business around the concept.

I was going to write a long post about how we got here, the scale of this problem and how we as individuals can plot a path forward, but time is precious. Instead I'm just going to list some of the easiest and most effective ways for you to make a real impact.

adaptive reuse upcycled sock as mason jar cozy

1. Bring a reusable beverage container with you everywhere. I use a 16 oz wide mouth mason jar with an upcycled wool sock cozy. This simple effort becomes second nature and I have avoided using literally thousands of disposable cups over the years.

2. Research your recycling program. Get to know exactly what's accepted and CLEAN your containers. It's the difference between things actually getting recycled and becoming landfill. This 99% Invisble episode explains exactly why.

3. Reusable shopping bags. Seriously. Plastic t-shirt bags are one of the deadliest forms of waste to other animals on the planet and only 5% ever get recycled. Go next level and encourage your municipality to institute a bag ban. Not convinced? Watch this video that is reported to have spurred the Chinese government to end the import of the world's waste.

4. Pay attention to the packaging on the products you buy and lobby corporations to change. You would be amazed what a FB post or tweet can do to make companies modify their behavior.

5. Stop buying plastic water bottles. Period. There is no excuse for using water bottles. The water in them isn't special in any way and we are now using 1 MILLION bottles A MINUTE. The US alone went through 50 BILLION bottles last year. That has to stop.

These are just a few of the most accessible ways to REDUCE first to make the biggest difference. There are lots more online. If you have other ideas, for sure leave them in the comments. Maybe we can work together to create a post-recycling manifesto.