Recycling Gets Real: Plastics [ TED Talks ]

21 Nov

I know that many people question the recycling process and how well it really works.  As an avid recycler, even I question the realities of recycling, and the biggest questions come to the realm of recycling plastics.  Plastics 1-7, certain factories only do certain types, ooops can’t do plastic film, bla bla bla…there are so many issues with plastic recycling!

Well, here you go green fans…now, plastic recycling gets real…real sustainability, real economics, real recycling!

It’s extremely exciting to see recycling become a real, legitimate process that everyone can get excited about.  And now the next step boils down to buying the products that use Mike’s plastic.  By purchasing these products, they come into more demand, creating more need for these types of plants and more desire to reuse the “stuff” that we throw away.

Now, of course, I can’t talk about this without related back to the built environment…buildings use an immense amount of resources.  The challenge then turns to “how do we reduce, reuse, or otherwise improve on our use of materials?”  Nature is extremely resourceful and produces little waste, as it finds ways to reuse materials within an ecosystem.

I think the real challenge is this: how do we approach our built environment’s use of materials like that of nature, the recycling process, or the beauty of reusing our “stuff”?

We can recycle plastic…just sayin…

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2 Responses to “Recycling Gets Real: Plastics [ TED Talks ]”

  1. Aric November 22, 2011 at 1:45 PM #

    This was absolutely fascinating and it is really good to see that the problem with sorting out types of plastic has been solved. It has always amazed me how there is so many types of plastic without a recycle label on them and it makes more sense now seeing how close they are. I think buildings provide us with an advantage over the plastics in that there are much larger and easier to sort out quantities of stuff in a building than in a small electronic device.

    Slightly off topic but I couldn't help but think of George Carlin (warning: possibly offensive language) when Mike kept talking about stuff. Specifically the quote:

    "Their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff."

    When George said it that was so true but now we have a way of taking that shit and making it new stuff!

    Full video if you want a good laugh:

    • Ryan November 22, 2011 at 6:46 PM #

      George Carlin: fantastic reference! Not only is this skit funny and appropriate, it actually tunes to another huge debate, especially around sustainability…how much do we really need? But that's another topic entirely!

      Back on topic though…the idea that building materials are easier to sort because of the size of materials is a great point to make. Building material recycling is unique in that materials are often larger, more quantifiable, and more durable, making many materials reusable. Considering that many materials can be reused, we can start thinking about how to design and build our buildings so that their materials really CAN be reused or recycled in some way. How does it go together so that the materials can be easily deconstructed? What material choices are we making? How much material do we really need to use?

      This topic also stems back to economics…if you buy used "stuff", it is often cheaper. Hmmm, seems like this would be good to catch on to!

      I think we're presented with a great opportunity for young people to begin rethinking how we deliver structures. Let's THINK DIFFERENTLY…

      So, in relation to Carlin…let's turn other people's shit into our stuff!

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