In the ‘70s I had a little green wastebasket with the newly minted 3Rs swirl logo “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. To this day I process cans, jars, clothing, newspapers, cardboard boxes, those pull-tab rings and anything else I possibly can. I applaud Michigan’s 10¢ deposit on carbonated beverages and regret that the current legislature doesn’t have the courage to extend it to water bottles which persist on roadways and waterways, the ugly refuse of thoughtless people who must remain hydrated but can’t be bothered to pack out their empties. Whatever happened to canteens?
But the whole bottled water thing is another blog and right now I want to talk about a yogurt container that I read today. It stated: “Save wildlife. Pease crush this container before disposing.” Is there an epidemic of woodland critters with their heads stuck in yogurt containers? I tried to crush my little Yoplait No. 5 container in my hand. It wouldn’t budge. I put it underfoot and collapsed it, but it shivered and snapped back into shape, ready to choke a curious squirrel. Should I put it in the recycling bin, I wondered? No, it’s a #5, they don’t take fives, someone will just have to pick it out and throw it away.
And by the way, there is no “away”, is there.
Yoplait’s lame appeal to the green in me is just their excuse to elude responsibility. A better message occurred to me: Yo, Yoplait! Why don’t YOU distribute your product in cups that are biodegradable?
In fact, why isn’t EVERYTHING sold in sustainable packaging? Why isn’t recycling built right into the design cycle? Those teeny tiny triangles with the recycling codes are so hard to read and easy to ignore that people are fooled into thinking, hell I can’t read this – why bother?
Why can’t recycling codes be proudly huge for all to read, integrated into the design. In fact, why can’t every package, every container be PETE or HDPE or some material is that actually recyclable? Just think of the jobs this could mean for designers, packagers, printers, form injectors, trash collectors. Germany has it down with their “Green Dot” system — why can’t the US? It just makes sense.
Mass marketing over 60+ years has brought us every conceivable packaging concept from Mrs. Butterworth brown glass bottles that are worthless to recycle to the Armageddon-proof poly display cases we curse and cut our fingers on. We open it, take what we want, and throw out the overwrap, the security liner, and eventually the lid and container. Detritus litters our garbage dumps, meters deep. It whirls endlessly in the Pacific ocean like some strange new landform.
Enough already. It’s time to charge the manufacturers with the responsibility of recycling. If you profit from it, you should be responsible for taking back the packaging.