The book provides an extensive look at what you can and cannot chuck into your blue bin. Author Jennie Romer is a lawyer and sustainability expert who leads the Surfrider Foundation’s Plastic Pollution Initiative, and she takes readers on a journey from production to destruction and beyond.
Recycling is a finicky industry, and the average family of four generates about 6,500 pounds of trash every year. For decades, the United States shipped enormous amounts of recyclables to China, but the recycling market transformed overnight when the country stopped accepting most plastic imports.
“When people think of recycling low-value plastics,” Romer writes, “I want them to know that their plastic waste has likely been landfilled or incinerated in the U.S., or has gone to a sorting lot in a developing country.”
Much ends up in the ocean, harming marine life, polluting pristine waters and endangering human health when those plastics — and the pollutants they absorb — end up in our food stream.
But you can help.
The book helps readers properly dispose of their plastic waste instead of “wishcycling” and contaminating the stream. And it helps readers figure out how to reduce their waste, from a personal waste audit to tweaked shopping and storage habits.
Romer includes information about how to pressure corporations into changing their practices and how to get involved with laws that affect recycling.
Packed with bright, fun illustrations by artist Christie Young, “Can I Recycle This?” goes beyond the bin.
“We need all hands on deck” to solve the persistent challenges of our waste production, Romer writes. By combining personal and systemic change, she says, there’s still a chance to make good on recycling’s promises.