Reusable vs. recycleable

Do you know where that blue can of mixed recyclables goes every two weeks?

Much of it goes to China, but that may end in January. In July, China informed the World Trade Organization that it would ban “imports of 24 types of recycled materials including various plastics (PET, PE, PVC and PS), as well as unsorted mixed paper, textiles, and some trace metals. And according to Beijing, starting in January every waste container entering China is to be inspected for contaminated materials”, according to Bloomberg BNA. Much of the recycling we send is contaminated, meaning that it’s mixed with other recyclables or garbage. When it get to the Chinese processing plants, it requires people to pick through it, and the garbage has to be disposed of in China—after being trucked and shipped all the way from the U.S.

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Two Weeks in 2017 – Fire, Flood, and Wind

In the last two weeks (Aug. 25 – Sept. 10), 19 U.S. states were affected by either hurricanes or fires. I’m no expert in climate change, but global increasing temperatures would seem a logical cause for two record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires.

Warming seas and sea-level increases are part of the formula for the current hurricanes’ strength, but not all. Bob Ward has written a good summary of climate change and Hurricane Harvey for The Guardian. The consensus is that as temperatures rise, hurricanes will be stronger and possibly more numerous.

In the western area of the U.S. and along the Canada border, massive fires are burning. Increasing and earlier spring temperatures means that snow melt is happening earlier, and summer temperatures are also increasing; normally dry areas just bake in these conditions. However, an increase in the  “wildland-urban interface”, where people want to live near wilderness areas, also increases the property damage during wildfires, as does preventing natural fires from burning to keep fuel down. The Union of Concerned Scientists has a good site on how to mitigate some of the fire damage at Is Global Warming Fueling Increased Wildfire Risks?, but they say regardless, the fires will increase.

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