Let’s do our part, Laguna – let’s sort our trash, recyclables, and green waste correctly

Today is trash day in my part of Laguna. Just within a short block I saw some things that made me wonder – do people read the lids to the blue, gray, and green bins? Each bin serves to pre-sort our ever-growing mound of trash in the landfills, oceans, and streets. There were items obviously in the wrong bin, some people just stuck stuff anywhere hoping that someone else will know better, I saw one bin where the person put whole cartons, not folded down, into the green bin (where green waste should go) with a note saying “recycle.”  Do the drivers really have time to read these personal notes/requests? I don’t think so – they drive up and down our streets, some are very narrow with curves, some people park their cars without concern about traffic, sometimes the drivers even have to drive down a street backwards as there is no place to turn around as they have to on my street. Talk about dangerous.

Back to the bins – the tops are very specific about what one can put in them. One of the most logical and I think important – do not put your trash in plastic bags and then put into the bin. Aren’t we putting enough plastic into the world from which right now there is no escape? These bags are not cheap and how well do they recycle their things when putting them in the plastic bag? I don’t know. But putting plastic, glass, and paper in them – that means that someone on the assembly line will have to tear them open to find out and sort them. Some folks are very conscientious and take the time to screw the lids back on the plastic bottles. Did you know that the lids are made of a different plastic and they are processed differently? So that means the lids have to come off. I learned this when I sometimes take my plastic and aluminum cans to the Orange Coast College Recycling Center. I do that so that those young people who “work” there sorting the trash are earning scholarships. Young people from different countries are working there to help with rent, books, etc. I like to help those who help themselves to achieve goals. I don’t drive there specifically to recycle there – I save them items for several weeks and when it is part of my “route of errands” I drop them off.

Back to trash day – did you know that the waste industry is one of the most dangerous of all occupations? (I understand that someone is hurt every day and last year, I read that 33 people were killed while on the job.) They don’t get paid that well for the risks they take and of course it is not a very clean job. They have to work fast as there is a lot of trash generated in our country and there are fewer and fewer ways of disposing them. Also there are fewer and fewer people who want to work in this industry – who will do this work? (Certainly not any of the children growing up in Laguna Beach, it would seem – parents are even paying thousands of dollars for them to attend prestigious schools even though they may not “qualify.”)

As we know the oceans are being inundated with trash – recently one whale had 88 pounds of trash in its stomach. Little fish, big fish, our coral reefs, lobsters, and other crustaceans are all victims of our carelessness and lack of concern. We depend on them for food especially as land animals are becoming less sustainable with loss of land to floods, droughts, use of chemicals, and other insane ravages of mankind. Never mind the wildlife.

So please take a moment, involve your children as well, sort things before you dump, see if it can be recycled by donating things such as clothing, furniture, and books to agencies that can re-use them to help the planet and help those who are not as fortunate as you are. I wonder why people are not concerned about what we are doing to this place called Earth. I saw a bumper stick that said, “There is no Planet B”.

In closing, I recently saw an article about a man who is collecting old and abandoned fishing nets and recycling the materials used to make them – to make new nets, clothing, etc. 

Ganka Brown
Laguna Beach