Updated: Aug 23, 2022
The city’s recent announcement of major recycling reductions have come with no surprise after years of being under fire for lack of initiative in recycling programs. Many articles cover what can be recycled, the ongoing chain of waste management, and ways to discard items as efficiently as possible. However, there seems to be a social disconnect on taking action between information and contamination. Recycling is cycling around the drain.
It is difficult and easy to influence the actions of anyone in New Orleans. In this city anyone can just continue to do what they have always done with the type of people they have always done it with. But at the same time, truly experiencing this city means taking part in anything that contributes to the community. Being involved in something that is ever changing means there is always something new to learn along with new people to share in each moment.
It feels like people forget that there is this bridge between awareness and activity: resources. Making an impact in the environment rather than just existing in it includes not only motivation, but also being provided access to the tools to work with. Distributing recycling bins is not enough if they are just being filled with items that have to be put in landfills anyway.
The current resolution is cutting down what can be recycled to alleviate the percentage of contamination in recycling bins so that more loads make it to actually being recycled versus dumped in landfills. Why is this? Are there ways for the city to decontaminate more waste in order to avoid landfills? Will people do a better job at managing waste themselves if the information were promoted? Expenses are the biggest obstacle, and cutting down is the easiest way to continue as has always been done. The problem is that cutting costs at the expense of long term sustainability prolongs an inevitable demise.
Only reducing the amount of products allowed to be recycled does not change the percentage of contamination in recycling just the quantity. Just as much waste goes directly into the landfills. A cheap fix now is only a stopping point to a financial disaster along with an environmental crisis. Discarding in landfills what could be reused perpetuates high costs of material production plus pollution. Managing waste in an ecofriendly way, rather than worrying about short term profits, can ultimately save money and protect the environment at the same time.