Recycling from Coast to Coast – Elemental Recycled Products

Recycling from Coast to Coast

“Other people’s toys are just so much more interesting.” True when you are 4 or 40.

This rule equally applies when considering how other cities handle sustainable practice. When traveling, it is not uncommon to find me abruptly stopping whatever sightseeing may be going down to snap a shot of something “recycle–y.”

I want a record of how the other sustainable half lives. More to the point, I want my beloved home state of TN to introduce these trends.

My incessant picture taking earns a good deal of eye–rolling as the Roach Family Circus meanders through a vacation. My husband, Mike, usually finds these moments the perfect opportunity to inspect the ceiling lights. On our last jaunt to Boston, my mother very loudly redirected my children to another store so as to avoid the quizzical stares of fellow shoppers.

But I was determined to commit Madewell’s jeans–to–insulation repurposing campaign to digital memory. I applaud your efforts company–wide, Madewell. Cheers to Boston for this storefront and many more green–forward movements.

It is important to take stock of what another corner of the universe is doing to encourage good choices. True, solutions and strategies that work for one city may not necessarily address the immediate needs for another, but the idea of collective forward momentum is comforting.

It can be as simple as being the ambassador for the initial idea. For instance, Seattle provides food and utensil composting as an option citywide, including the airport. That is both impressive and progressive. Transport hubs are notorious harbors for all things disposable. Seattleites in turn enjoy free compost to feed that famed lush greenery crowning its seven hills.

Imagine how thrilled I was to hear that same initiative being considered at local city councils here in Tennessee. At Bonnaroo—Tennessee’s favorite music festival held annually in Manchester—event organizers compost their patrons’ collected food scraps over the course of the weekend–long festival that then feed and replenish the soil on the 700–acre farm and surrounds for the rest of the year.


As I scour my photo library, I realize how much effort municipalities great and small put towards raising the profile of sustainability. Sometimes the momentum is unassuming and in places you would not normally credit as especially green.
Dallas gets it. Compare the trash bin to the recycling bin. In Texas, everything is supposed to be bigger, right? Here in the heart of the Lone Star state, the recycling bin is bigger. The message is clear—recycling matters. These bins say much without saying anything at all. Like a taciturn, but seductive cowboy should.

And Asheville means to wear their green right on their sleeve. Or perhaps NC blue in this case, though I want to say that’s a softer hue? Look homeward on that artful recycling bin. Southern axiom #1—you catch more flies with honey and the eye certainly lands there. The black garbage bin marked LANDFILL looks menacing, as though there are mean squirrels that reside within.

But the contrasting color schemes mean far more capture and high profile in a state combatting waste management woes and a growing urban population. This site http://www.re3.org/facts.htm colorfully illustrates the sobering facts of NC’s waste landscape.

  • Every 1.3 minutes, North Carolinians throw away enough plastic bottles to reach the distance of the first Wright Brothers’ flight.
  • Last year NC trashed enough paper to fill 1558 football fields three feet deep.
  • North Carolinians throw away more than $74,072,000 in aluminum cans each year.

So, keep rambling, recyclers. Keep comparing notes with your neighbors as you roll. Keep your eyes peeled for the real souvenirs of each journey––new ways to recycle that you can kickstart in your own neck of the woods.

––Stephanie

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