The next edition of the Scarsdale Inquirer will be published Jan. 4, not Dec. 28, and we will be closed next week. So let’s get a jumpstart on our New Year’s resolutions. Here are three things everyone can and should resolve to do: Reduce and reuse. Then recycle whatever’s left.
We live in a throwaway society. In 2019, let’s resolve to change that. Think about it — Is that cell phone you bought two years ago unusable? Or is it just undesirable? Is new necessary?
We think everything is disposable — cell phones, furniture, clothing, footwear, dishes, takeout containers, shopping bags, straws, even the toys we give our kids — and those of us who care about the environment think we are doing our share by putting things on the curbside to recycle. But an alarming amount of trash still ends up in waterways and oceans and landfills.
A recent segment of CBS 60 Minutes was disheartening, if not depressing. The show cited a study by a University of California researcher that found only 10 percent of plastic goes to a recycling facility, and quoted an expert who said by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
According to the CBS report, about two-thirds of our plastic refuse had been sorted, shredded and shipped to China, which had figured out an efficient and economical way to recycle plastic. As recently as 2017, however, China no longer wants to be the world’s trash receptacle and its government is cracking down on illegal “foreign garbage” imports.
Now the plastics we toss in the blue bin are being diverted to places like Vietnam, Indochina, Malaysia and Thailand. Are those nations able to recycle, or is our plastic just ending up in landfills overseas? No one knows for sure.
I used to feel like my recycling efforts meant something and I knew where my trash was ending up. Not any more. Without China taking our trash, the U.S. and other wealthy nations are facing a trash crisis. The world is drowning in ever-lasting plastic, which is swirling in the seas and washing up on shores as far away as Midway Atoll, one of the most remote places in the world. The refuse is carried there by currents from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an 87,000-ton whirlpool of plastic waste that’s accumulating between California and Hawaii. CBS footage showed rare albatross birds that populate the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge are dying with bellies full of plastic while environmentalists work to remove rubbish heaps containing everything from buoys and bowling balls to chemicals and tires.
Let’s stop all this waste. Let’s make it easier for people to reuse things. Last week, a “Take It or Leave It” shed had an official opening at the Scarsdale Sanitation Center at 110 Secor Road. The repurposed bus stop provides a place to exchange gently used items. It is supposed to be accessible not only to Scarsdale residents but to people from nearby communities as well. Everyone is welcome to drop off items they don’t need or pick up items they could use. On a recent visit to the facility, we saw bicycles, skis, scooters and large plastic toys. Next to the shed there are bins for used clothing and shoes, and a shipping container that stores unwanted furniture to be repurposed through the Furniture Sharehouse facility near the Westchester County Airport. It will be interesting to see how effective these efforts will be, especially if we find ways to publicize the shed is here and everyone — from here or afar — is welcome to use it.
We applaud these efforts to encourage the reuse of unwanted but still usable stuff. We also applaud those who recognize their castoffs are perfectly good for others.
Let’s resolve to reduce the amount we use and reuse more than we recycle. Everyone has a role to play. If we all take action, we can make a difference.