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Rethinker Spotlight Webinar Follow-Up

RethinkWaste held a Rethinker Spotlight Webinar on June 29, 2022 featuring local artist, Harriete Estel Berman. Harriete shared in-depth details about her art, the materials she uses, and the messaging behind the art pieces, followed by a discussion where attendees got to ask Harriete questions.

This page provides the links to resources, the recording of the event, and questions and answers from the audience.

Resources

Webinar Recording

Questions and Answers

1. What inspired you [Harriete] to turn ordinary waste material into extraordinary pieces of art? Can you talk a little bit about your inspiration?

In 1980 moving to California, there was no curbside pick-up recycling. I lived in Palo Alto near the Stanford campus and became aware that they had recycling on campus. I would collect newspaper, glass, and tin cans.

In 1988, I simply decided that I was only going to use recycled materials. At that time, I started using recycled tin cans. And using this material inspires new work all the time. The patterns on the tin cans, the lettering, and the messages from our consumer society are all the things that inspired me. When I started working with plastic waste, I must admit it was kind of embarrassing. The piece that I show you with a necklace in the fruit crate label, I submitted to an exhibition, and a colleague of mine admired my jewelry piece made up of plastic waste. So, I was admitted because my craftsmanship is impeccable, but truly, I am working with waste material.

2. When you [Harriete] heat and bend the plastic, what tool do you use, and do you do it outdoors?

I’ve done lots of experiments that don’t require heating. While I don’t heat the plastic, I am always doing new experiments with plastic! I work with the garage doors open, as I believe in the fresh air, but try to be as nontoxic as possible. Heating plastic is not something I would generally recommend. I did experiments with laser cutters, and that doesn’t work either because it is essentially hot. So, the point of my answer is to think about how you can use your materials in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

3. What is your [Harriete] favorite kind of scissors to use? And how do you avoid accidentally cutting your fingers when working with cans?

I learned to work with my materials very carefully! When I work with my tools and materials, I always rethink my approach to the material. You’d be stunned to realize how difficult it is to cut plastic waste. I investigate all different kinds of shears that will cut the plastic. So, when I work with my materials, I am always as safe and environmentally conscious as can be. I’m also thinking about the impact that it has on my body. So generally, if I’m cutting plastic, I’m only cutting a few hours out of the day because it’s difficult to cut. You’re going to want to think about how you can be aware of using your materials in a way that you can sustain that for yourself as the artist.

4. What kinds of tools do you [Harriete] use for cutting metal and how long have you been cutting metal?

I have the privilege of having both a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a Master of Fine Arts in Metal Smithing. I have a lot of technical skills, but I will say that I have an aptitude for working with materials. Even though I have a lot of technical background, it was a leap to take my traditional metalsmithing skills and work with tins cans and waste to turn waste to art. That’s one of my objectives- to truly transform my materials! I am really not inspired if the final outcome looks trashy. I want people to look at my work and be like “Wow, how did she make that!?” and not have it be so obvious that it might have been an old tin can, milk bottle, or orange juice container.

5. Do you [Harriete] have a favorite material to work with and if so, why?

I don’t really have a favorite material, but I am always experimenting. I am always going back and forth with tin cans and plastic, which I have been doing for eight years. The bigger project that I like is the black plastic necklace which took about four months. Also, I am always focusing on one project or the next, so therefore I am always experimenting.

6. What inspires you [Harriete] to make art that addresses the economic sphere of society?

I am more inspired by what I see in politics and just around me in my own neighborhood, so I feel like I must address that. The children are not bulletproof pin was made for a show about politics. The message and children are not bulletproof is more resonant now than it was 20 years ago when I made it. With my grass sculpture made entirely from tin cans, I was thinking about the environmental impacts of lawns. Keep in mind that this was 22 years ago, and people thought I was insane. But now- as we continue to have lawns, face related climate change, experience a 100-year drought- for the first-time, people must realize the environmental impact of having a grass lawn.

7. Do you [Harriete] have a favorite personal art piece?

My favorite personal art piece is the functional chair I created that is attached to the wall. It describes what I am seeing in our consumer society where people create an identity for themselves by what they buy and why they buy it. I am very, almost painfully, aware of the impact of our consumption and overconsumption. We are talking about plastic waste, packaging, consumption, and climate change. It all has to do with our consumption. I cannot stop thinking about that! So, I am generally aware, which is the reason why I only get takeout once a year. Not only that, but I also get a guilt attack when they use a plastic container. I mean, there are a lot of places that are changing the law that they can’t use single-use plastic for takeout, but instead must shift to containers that are recyclable or environmentally friendly. Still, we continue to create volumes of waste in our society. That is hard for me too!

8. We are starting to see white plastic being used to replace black plastic containers: are those recyclable?

The response to that is that it depends. If you see a chasing arrow symbol with numbers one or two, then yes, it is recyclable! If it does not have these, then unfortunately, it will have to go in the garbage bin, or you can do something else with it. Hopefully after this webinar, you get inspired to rethink it and use it for another time or creation!

Why We Celebrate Earth Day

As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, and Earth Month as a whole this month, let’s take a moment to learn about how this massive political and environmental movement began. Earth Day is a celebration of our planet and all it does for us, but it is also a stark reminder of the actions we must take in order to protect the Earth’s natural beauty and its inhabitants.

The first Earth Day took place in 1970 in response to the growing degree of air and water pollution in the United States, with universities and colleges as the epicenter of the movement. Senator Gaylord Nelson helped start the Earth Day movement with the help of Stanford University student Denis Hayes. The major catalyst for the Earth Day campaign was a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in January of 1969.

Earth Day has long been associated with public demonstrations in favor of environmental protectionism and environmental justice. The first Earth Day saw 20 million Americans, or 10% of the American population at the time, participate in some fashion, either by demonstrating in the streets or parks or attending an Earth Day talk or event. The U.S. Government created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed many laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Education Act, partly in response to the Earth Day movement and the growing public outcry against industrial pollution.

In 1990, Earth Day became an international movement, with 200 million people in 141 countries around the world participating. The first United Nations Earth summit took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. Earth Day 2020 marked 50 years of a still very active movement for climate action embraced by people young and old in every corner of the globe. Despite the international participation in the Earth Day movement, we still have a long way to go to protect our planet.

Here are some actions you can take today and tips to celebrate Earth Day and Earth Month in the spirit of the movement:

  1. Learn more by watching a film or reading a book about environmental justice or other environmental issues.
  2. Practice mindfulness while enjoying Earth’s natural beauty. Get outside and take a hike, and remember to “pack in and pack out” anything you bring with you.
  3. Join an Earth Day demonstration or clean-up. Check your city’s website for any events that may be happening locally during Earth Month. Check out this article for more events happening around the Bay Area. The City of San Mateo also has several events listed on their website.
  4. Make an effort to conserve natural resources. Some ideas are biking or walking instead of driving, taking a shorter shower, going meatless for Earth Day, and considering drought-resistant, native, and pollinator-friendly plants.
  5. Connect with nature through gardening. Consider planting a tree or get started on your Spring herb garden!
  6. Consider switching to reusable products and divesting from single-use plastic as much as possible in your daily life. You can even take a plastic free pledge!
  7. Attend one of RethinkWaste’s Earth Month events! Visit this page for more details on our Environmental Justice film screening on Thursday, April 21st at 5 p.m.!

There are so many different ways to celebrate Earth Day by connecting with nature and conserving resources! Share how are you are celebrating this year by tagging us on social media on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook! However you choose to celebrate this year, remember that you don’t need to wait until April 22nd to adopt eco-friendly habits and advocate for the Earth in your daily life.

Sources:

https://www.earthday.org/history/

https://www.epa.gov/history/epa-history-earth-day

Prepping for Plastic Free July Webinar Follow-Up

RethinkWaste held a Prepping for Plastic Free July Webinar on June 29, 2021. We presented on the history of waste, shared a video showcasing different experiences in waste reduction, followed by a discussion with our community about reducing waste solutions.

This page provides the presentation slides and links to resources. If you have questions, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Resources

If you have questions, fill out the form below!

Contact Form

Plastics Webinar Follow-Up

RethinkWaste held a Plastics Webinar on April 15, 2021 in celebration of Earth Month. We shared a film screening of the PBS Frontline documentary Plastic Wars, followed by a panel discussion with experts in the field: Alejandra Warren, Sustainability Consultant and Co-Founder of Plastic Free Future, Dan Domonoske, Executive Vice President of Potential Industries, and Eva Holman, Policy Organizer at UPSTREAM.

This page provides the webinar recording, links to more resources, and all of the questions (with answers) submitted by attendees. If you have additional questions, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Resources

Resources from Panelists

Webinar recording and panelist discussion

Questions and Answers

Text was edited for conciseness.

1. Are plastics #3-7 going to the landfill?

Dan: Yes, all of the plastic #3-7’s are going to the landfill. There is a market for plastic #5, which is polypropylene, and depending on the MRF (Material Recovery Facility) recovery equipment, they’re able to recover that.

2. What are some plastics-related policies that UPSTREAM is working on?

Eva: Within the last few years, we’ve started to introduce reuse policies which mandate reuse for on site, and sometimes can also include a cup or a container charge for single-use “to go” containers. These are really what we’ve been passionate about introducing, supporting, and passing all over the Bay Area and beyond.  

3. Some grocery stores are collecting single-use plastic bags. Is there a market for them? What happens to them?

Dan: It’s my understanding that the contamination level on single-use plastic bags is so high that even if it ends up in a recycling facility, it just gets trashed.

4. How many shipping containers are currently being exported for recycling?

Dan: Between six and eight 40-foot containers per day. It goes to Southeast Asia but that’s cardboard and paper because there’s essentially no market for that in California. A 40-foot container holds about 20 to 23 tons. Very few plastics are being exported from our Shoreway facility to Southeast Asia.

5. I’m a middle schooler, how can I help? It’s way harder to make an impact as a younger person as adults don’t really listen.

Alejandra: Use your voice. Don’t be afraid, don’t feel small, because any conversation that you can have can make a really big difference with your friends at school with your teachers, with your parents, with your family. Every time you show them by example that you are leading the way, they’re going to listen to you. So don’t think that they are not listening. We are all listening, and we want more kids like you involved.

Eva: School cafeterias are a great launching point! For some reason, schools moved away from reusable trays and containers to rigid plastic containers with plastic tops some years ago. Schools in Palo Alto, as well as in Berkeley and Marin are moving back to reusables in their cafeterias. If you’re in a school that has a cafeteria that’s using single use items, that’s a great spot to get involved! You have a strong voice within your school environment, especially if your school is back [in session] now. If not, then it might take until next year, but that’s gives you some time to set up a really great campaign and do some research on how schools in Berkeley and Palo Alto have navigated that process.

6. I’ve heard that some plastics, the kind that seem almost like cellophane, are biodegradable?

Dan: It doesn’t work. It’s fine in a lab, but there’s no commercially viable application for that in the country.

Alejandra: There’s a lot of greenwashing in “bioplastics,” “biodegradable plastics,” and “compostable plastics.”  We’re starting to understand that they really don’t do what people wanted them to do. We can see all sorts of plastic that say compostable, and they are probably compostable when they go to a composting facility with a really high temperature and controlled humidity. But if you take that compostable fork to the beach and accidentally drop it then a turtle is going to eat it. The fish are going to eat it, and it’s never going to decompose, it’s just going to break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics or nano-plastics. They’re going to end up in the fish, they’re going to end up in the food chain, and we’re going to end up eating them. So please keep your eyes open for all those names that are not the real solution.

7. What about Trex – NextTrex recycling program for plastic film?

Julia: A lot of plastics can be recycled once. You can turn a water bottle into a pair of shoes but you can’t recycle the shoe. So at least you’re extending the life of a product which I think is what NextTrex does.

Alejandra: Everything that we think that is recyclable, it’s just going to be down cycled probably into a product that is a lot lesser quality than the first one so then it ends there.

Dan: Recycling is if something gets used over and over. Glass, aluminum, and paper [get used] over and over. Down cycling is when you turn it into some kind of a park bench or three-dimensional plastic lumber and it stays that way forever. Even to do that, it’s not done with post-consumer film plastic.

8. How we can get Trader Joe’s to change their plastic packaging?

Eva: Don’t buy those things at Trader Joe’s. I know I frequent Trader Joe’s, but I try not to buy that packaged stuff because it’s completely wasteful and it’s completely unnecessary, especially for produce to be packaged like that.

Julia: Go by your stores, and let them know! The more people who speak up, the more they’ll hear about it.

9. Are there any restaurants in the Bay Area that will let you bring your own plate or container for takeout?

Eva: We’re starting to gather more data in this area! If you hear of a restaurant or a cafe that’s letting you bring your own, we want to hear about it. It’s really important that we celebrate these restaurants that are taking the lead.

Alejandra: Our plan is to create a map. We just had a meeting on this with a bunch of activists  in the Bay Area. We want to create a map that everyone can use to guide them in making decisions in frequenting restaurants and cafes that are allowing for reusables.

10. Are there any restaurants in the Bay Area that will let you bring your own plate or container for takeout?

Eva: We’re starting to gather more data in this area! If you hear of a restaurant or a cafe that’s letting you bring your own, we want to hear about it. It’s really important that we celebrate these restaurants that are taking the lead.

Alejandra: Our plan is to create a map. We just had a meeting on this with a bunch of activists  in the Bay Area. We want to create a map that everyone can use to guide them in making decisions in frequenting restaurants and cafes that are allowing for reusables.

11. What are the most impactful and also realistic plastic reduction campaigns that local organizations should encourage in their local communities?

Alejandra: As restaurants reopen, there’s an opportunity to ask legislators to pass a policy that mandates reuse for on-site dining at a new restaurant. If a restaurant’s opening or there’s a restaurant with new ownership or new management, mandate reusables for on-site dining. Also, push for PFAS ban no matter what, because PFAS chemicals should not be in your foodware whether it be plastic or non-plastic.

12. [In reference to the “chasing arrows” symbol and recycling] The printed guidelines on our bins from your companies are quite misleading. Why can’t we be honest with one another?

Eva: Just like we want transparency in our food system, I think the same kind of clarity should be expected from consumers about packaging. We want to know if it’s truly recyclable because that will impact our purchasing, and so I’m just really excited that this is changing. The film told the story really well about how these symbols were created, and none of it was to help consumers make the right decisions or to help waste management companies.

Dan: There are two cases right now we should keep our eye on in California. One is Smith vs. Keurig, which has to do with the pods, and the second one is Greenpeace vs. Walmart. Both of them have to do with stopping the misleading representation of recyclability when it’s not true.

13. Where to purchase bulk food in the Bay Area?

Alejandra: Check this list of stores that offer food in bulk.

14. Is the Biden administration and our new and improved Environmental Protection Agency working on resolving our plastics problem?

Eva: The “Break Free from Plastic” bill, is something we should all get behind and support. And recently, a reuse component was added to that as well. Also, climate is big on Biden’s plate right now, and obviously the extraction of fossil fuels and the creation of plastic has a huge climate impact, as well as many more aspects of the whole oil business. I think that the connection between plastics and climate will become an obvious next step. I know that Recology funded the ballot initiative, which would actually do a chargeback to the makers of plastic packaging. That money would be used to fund programs that are working on reducing plastic pollution.

15. Amazon brags that “this plastic bag is 50% lighter than a cardboard box”. Is this relevant?

Eva: The conversation should not be “is this one single use disposable better than this other single use disposable?” It should be “Hey Amazon, when are you going to start using reusable packaging?” The new campaign with Amazon is to get a reusable bag with a resealable closure and put that out into the market. There’s a big push from California, in the Bay Area and beyond, to ask Amazon to start piloting reusable packaging solutions.

16. What do you see as hopeful in the fight against plastic?

Alejandra: Just the fact that you’re here learning about it, and educating yourself, makes it a positive experience, because you’re learning and you care, and you’re going to bring this knowledge to your family and your friends, and you’re going to make a difference with this knowledge.

Dan: I think that it’s going to be harder for the big companies and the retailers to brainwash us into making stupid decisions to buy stuff without thinking about the unintended consequences. We are the ones that make decisions on what we choose to buy. And that’s a good thing.

Eva: I’m seeing this huge stage of opportunity and growth in green jobs, people moving away from going through other people’s garbage into jobs that bring them joy, and building a whole green infrastructure in this entire country and beyond!

Pre-Submitted Questions and Answers

1. Plastic bag recycling says bags must be clean & dry. What if one bag is dirty or wet, does the whole bundle get scrapped?

The short answer is typically no. Typically it takes more than just one piece of contamination to make the whole bundle unusable. The issue is if each person puts in one item that can’t be recycled what seems like a small amount of contamination can add up quickly.

2. What is the biggest disconnect with our waste management system and the general public?

One of the biggest disconnects with our waste system and the general public is the chasing arrows symbol. On almost all plastic items you can find the chasing arrows symbol, which some people mistakenly refer to as the recycling symbol, with a number inside. These chasing arrows and the number indicate what type of plastic the item is made out of, not that the item can be recycled.

3. Are people properly sorting? How much incorrect sorting can you tolerate with today’s recycling tech?

In our service area, for the most part people are sorting properly. At our Material Recovery Facility (MRF) we have a 13% contamination rate. The MRF is where we process all of the recyclables that we receive in the blue recycling bin/cart. That basically means for every 100 items sent to the MRF about 13 of them can’t be recycled and instead are sent to the landfill.

4. Is there an organization similar to RethinkWaste operating in the Monterey Bay Area? If not, can the model be leveraged?

Yes, the Monterey Bay area has an organization called the Monterey Regional Waste Management District (MRWMD). MRWMD serves Moss Landing, Castroville, Marina, Seaside, Del Rey Oaks, Sand City, Monterey, Monterey-Salinas Highway area, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Carmel, Unincorporated Carmel, Carmel Valley, Carmel Highlands, and Big Sur.

5. How can I avoid plastic when buying food?

One option is to buy in bulk whenever possible. If you are looking for places to purchase bulk products, check this list of locations. Another option is to see if there are other packaging options such as metal cans or glass jars.

6. What to do with many plastic bags – grocery, bags carrying food, nuts, snack etc.

Unfortunately, in our service area we can’t recycle soft plastic, including grocery bags and snack wrappers. If you can’t reuse them, all soft plastic must go in the black landfill bin.

7. How much of our plastics actually get recycled?

Plastics #1 (PET) and 2 (HDPE) are readily recyclable and are usually recycled in both domestic and some international markets. Plastics #1 are items such as water and soda bottles, peanut butter jars, and salad dressing bottles. These items are mostly recycled into more water and soda bottles or textiles and insulation. Examples of Plastics #2 are milk jugs, laundry detergent and oil bottles, and drain cleaner containers. These items are mostly recycled into more laundry detergent and oil bottles, piping, recycling containers, shampoo bottles, and chairs.

8. Why can’t the U.S. incinerate the unusable plastics that litter our environment like Japan does?

Incineration is illegal in the state of California, so incineration is not an option.

9. Is there such a thing as bad plastic or like plastic you wouldn’t recommend recycling?

Plastics #3 – 7 are plastics that are difficult to recycle. Examples of Plastics #3 – 7 are PVC pipes, yogurt containers, cold and hot beverage lids, and takeout containers. There is currently no market for the material when it is deconstructed, as these are low-quality plastics. Currently, RethinkWaste is still accepting plastics #1 – 7, but once plastics #1 – 2 are sorted out, plastics #3 – 7 are directed to the transfer station and sent to the landfill. Try and avoid these plastics as much as possible or reuse them if you can.

10. I understand that black plastic cannot be recycled. How can we get manufactures to quit using it? Better labeling?

One way to try and get manufactures to stop using black plastic would be to advocate for other options. You can do this by writing letters directly to manufacturers and businesses, speaking to your local representatives, and spreading the word about waste reduction bills and ordinances.

11. Why are towns not having places to bring items that terracycle collects, such as a drop off place for items that terracycle collects?

Terracycle is a company that offers collection and recycling of items that are typically not accepted in a curbside recycling program. It would be wonderful if more communities had more drop off locations for hard to recycle items. If you are looking for local options for recycling different items please check recyclestuff.org.

12. When/how will plastic producers be held responsible if Break Free From Plastics doesn’t pass?

For more information and to show your support for the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, check their website.

If you have more questions, fill out the form below!

Contact Form

Hazardous Waste 101 Webinar Follow-Up

RethinkWaste held a Hazardous Waste 101 Webinar on February 18, 2021 (National Battery Day). This page provides the webinar recording, presentation slides, links to more resources, and all of the questions (with answers) submitted by attendees. If you have additional questions, fill out the form at the bottom of the page.

Resources

Powerpoint Presentation

Household Hazardous Waste

Safe Home Cleaning

Webinar recording and live Q&A

Questions and Answers

1. What do I do with pressure treated wood?

Pressure treated wood is now classified as hazardous waste. To dispose of it, residents can bring it to the San Mateo County HHW facility for proper disposal. Set up on this acceptance should be happening soon. Check for updates on treated wood waste disposal on the County website.

2. How do I get battery collection in my apartment complex?

If you don’t see one at your location, ask your property manager or owner to get a bucket for your building(s) from Recology for free. Please note that only property managers/owners can request a bucket and coordinate pickups.

1. Are plastics #3-7 going to the landfill?

Dan: Yes, all of the plastic #3-7’s are going to the landfill. There is a market for plastic #5, which is polypropylene, and depending on the MRF (Material Recovery Facility) recovery equipment, they’re able to recover that.

2. What are some plastics-related policies that UPSTREAM is working on?

Eva: Within the last few years, we’ve started to introduce reuse policies which mandate reuse for on site, and sometimes can also include a cup or a container charge for single-use “to go” containers. These are really what we’ve been passionate about introducing, supporting, and passing all over the Bay Area and beyond.  

3. Some grocery stores are collecting single-use plastic bags. Is there a market for them? What happens to them?

Dan: It’s my understanding that the contamination level on single-use plastic bags is so high that even if it ends up in a recycling facility, it just gets trashed.

6. How to dispose of scrap lumber, not pressure treated, from household? 2×4 scraps, etc?

Scrap lumber can be brought to the Shoreway Environmental Center and will be classified as construction and demolition debris. There may be a fee associated with drop off. For pricing information, click here.

4. How many shipping containers are currently being exported for recycling?

Dan: Between six and eight 40-foot containers per day. It goes to Southeast Asia but that’s cardboard and paper because there’s essentially no market for that in California. A 40-foot container holds about 20 to 23 tons. Very few plastics are being exported from our Shoreway facility to Southeast Asia.

8. Where can we recycle portable tools that have a rechargeable battery?

These can also be brought to the Shoreway Public Recycling Center, hardware stores like Home Depot, or if you live in a single-family household, you can put them in a zip-top bag and place on top of your garbage cart for your regular collection day. If you live in an apartment or condo with an orange battery bucket, you can place these batteries in there as well.

5. I’m a middle schooler, how can I help? It’s way harder to make an impact as a younger person as adults don’t really listen.

Alejandra: Use your voice. Don’t be afraid, don’t feel small, because any conversation that you can have can make a really big difference with your friends at school with your teachers, with your parents, with your family. Every time you show them by example that you are leading the way, they’re going to listen to you. So don’t think that they are not listening. We are all listening, and we want more kids like you involved.

Eva: School cafeterias are a great launching point! For some reason, schools moved away from reusable trays and containers to rigid plastic containers with plastic tops some years ago. Schools in Palo Alto, as well as in Berkeley and Marin are moving back to reusables in their cafeterias. If you’re in a school that has a cafeteria that’s using single use items, that’s a great spot to get involved! You have a strong voice within your school environment, especially if your school is back [in session] now. If not, then it might take until next year, but that’s gives you some time to set up a really great campaign and do some research on how schools in Berkeley and Palo Alto have navigated that process.

6. I’ve heard that some plastics, the kind that seem almost like cellophane, are biodegradable?

Dan: It doesn’t work. It’s fine in a lab, but there’s no commercially viable application for that in the country.

Alejandra: There’s a lot of greenwashing in “bioplastics,” “biodegradable plastics,” and “compostable plastics.”  We’re starting to understand that they really don’t do what people wanted them to do. We can see all sorts of plastic that say compostable, and they are probably compostable when they go to a composting facility with a really high temperature and controlled humidity. But if you take that compostable fork to the beach and accidentally drop it then a turtle is going to eat it. The fish are going to eat it, and it’s never going to decompose, it’s just going to break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics or nano-plastics. They’re going to end up in the fish, they’re going to end up in the food chain, and we’re going to end up eating them. So please keep your eyes open for all those names that are not the real solution.

7. What about Trex – NextTrex recycling program for plastic film?

Julia: A lot of plastics can be recycled once. You can turn a water bottle into a pair of shoes but you can’t recycle the shoe. So at least you’re extending the life of a product which I think is what NextTrex does.

Alejandra: Everything that we think that is recyclable, it’s just going to be down cycled probably into a product that is a lot lesser quality than the first one so then it ends there.

Dan: Recycling is if something gets used over and over. Glass, aluminum, and paper [get used] over and over. Down cycling is when you turn it into some kind of a park bench or three-dimensional plastic lumber and it stays that way forever. Even to do that, it’s not done with post-consumer film plastic.

8. How we can get Trader Joe’s to change their plastic packaging?

Eva: Don’t buy those things at Trader Joe’s. I know I frequent Trader Joe’s, but I try not to buy that packaged stuff because it’s completely wasteful and it’s completely unnecessary, especially for produce to be packaged like that.

Julia: Go by your stores, and let them know! The more people who speak up, the more they’ll hear about it.

If you have more questions, fill out the form below!

Contact Form

Join Us for Rethink Recycling Days!

This year, we are celebrating Rethink Recycling Day by hosting two full days of virtual tours and workshops in partnership with local experts from community-focused businesses and organizations.

If you want to see where your waste goes, heal your sick houseplant, keep your food fresher for longer, or fix a broken appliance in your home, join us virtually on Saturday, November 7th and Saturday, November 14th for these no-cost offerings:

  • Virtual Shoreway Tours
  • Houseplant Care & Home Herb Garden How-To – Presented by Lyngso Garden Materials
  • Waste Bingo & Crafts for Kids!
  • Virtual Fixit Clinic
  • Sourdough for Starters – Presented by Zero Waste Chef
  • Food Safety How-To’s: Storing, Identifying Imperfect Produce & Jamming – Presented by Master Food Preservers
  • Mental Health Resiliency & Coping w/ Climate Change – Presented by Resource Innovation Group
  • Get to Know Your Community Partners – Presented in conjunction with Recology San Mateo County, South Bay Recycling, Peninsula Clean Energy, San Mateo County Parks & Office of Sustainability
  • Happy Hour w/ RethinkWaste Executive Director & Poster Contest Winner Recognition

Sign up for the workshops are required and information on how to sign-up and more information about Rethink Recycling Days can be found at: rethinkwaste.org/rrd