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Q. How do I know whether the items I place in my recycling bin are actually recycled (short of attaching a spy camera to a glass bottle or following the collection truck like an investigative journalist)? I try to reduce my consumption so that this question burns less intensely, but I have yet to reach a packaging-free state of being. When it takes so much water to clean the plastic and glass, I wonder if the effort and water are worth it.
A. Dearest Lori,
Spy camera? Glass bottle? Before I say anything else, I must say this: Please make this movie. I heart innovative documentaries about our municipal waste systems.
But as cool as this project would be, it’s unnecessary for your peace of mind. I can understand how modern single-stream (or commingled) recycling programs -- in which all items go into the bin together -- might seem dubious. I just toss all the paper and glass and plastic together, and it somehow all ends up separated and recycled? Really? Yes, really, for one major reason: Recyclables have value. And where there’s a dollar to be made, we can be confident people will do their best to make it.