Friday, January 27, 2017

Plastic's Ticket To Travel: Wind, Rain and a Stormdrain

Along Franklin Ave, eight pieces of trash, mostly plastic, sit poised to head down the storm drain and into Harry's Brook. A stormdrain may not look like a promising gateway to the world, but this plastic could be poised for a journey of thousands of miles. Harry's Brook empties into Carnegie Lake, which in turn empties into the Millstone River, whose water joins the Raritan River where our drinking water comes from, and from there drains into the Atlantic Ocean. If you type "Sargasso Sea plastic pollution" into a google search, and then click on "images", you may see what's at this link--images of plastic strewn across the sea. Multiply eight pieces of trash by the millions of storm drains in New Jersey, add all the other states and nations with rivers flowing into the Atlantic, and those ghastly images seem less surprising.

As with so many other threats to a habitable planet's future, don't look for malice or even carelessness in this local/global litter. Now and then, strong winds blow on Princeton's recycling day. Overflowing green and yellow recycling buckets spill their contents onto the streets, and water and gravity do the rest.

Princeton participates in Mercer County's recycling service, which may well be cost-effective, but the small round buckets are not ideal, as they lack capacity and stability, and can roll into traffic when left on their side. Most lack lids and, if stored outside, allow rain in and mosquitoes to breed in the summer. When filled with heavy paper or glass, they are onerous for many residents to carry to the street. Still, one senses that the yellow and green recycling buckets will, like the rest of the world's imperfections, endure.

Below are some posts about plastics and recycling filled with fun, edification and exasperation from previous years:

Troubled Beverage Containers on the Brink

The Great Recyclables Escape

House Made of Bottles

Where Princeton's Recyclables Go

Poem of the Puzzled Bottle Top Recycler

No comments: