Plastics are convenient. They are light, durable, and often cheap. However, they are becoming toxic to the air we breathe, the water we drink, the animals we love, the soil that supports our food, and the beauty of natural landscapes and roads.

I’ve recently become involved in a Pachamama Alliance action oriented environmental program. I chose PLASTICS as my focus. You are all familiar with the slogan “Reduce; Reuse, Recycle.” In this and the next several blog entries I will be sharing with you a Challenge for each of these components ending with Prevention. Today, I start with RECYCLE.

I’ve previously blogged on different aspects of recycling plastics: Plastics Do’s & Don’ts,  Recycling Basics, and Taming Xmas & Plastics. Assuming you already recycle plastics in your own home, today’s challenge is to go beyond your home to your community. It will raise your awareness and multiply your efforts. See if you can meet or exceed my recent plastic recycling experiment below.

Step 1: Know what items your local curbside recycling company takes beside paper (usually cans, glass, and plastic bottles).

Step 2: Collect. For a day or a week, scour your neighborhood for recyclable trash along the roadside. Collect it. I decided to use my daily bike route for this experiment since I often see trash along the roadside but it’s not convenient to stop my bike and pick it up. This time I put 2 plastic bags on my handle bars, took half of my route (about 2 miles round trip) and stopped to pick up plastic or glass bottles, and cans, along the way.

Step 3: Count. I had 31 plastic bottles, 22 metal cans, and 5 glass bottles. It took me one hour to do a 2 mile loop which is half as far but twice as long as my usual bike ride.

Of course you could just walk your neighborhood. Or you could choose a generally littered part of your town if you really want to beat me. The point is to take recycling plastics (and other curbside recyclables) to a new level of consciousness.

This may be the easiest of the Plastic Challenges I will offer you. The next 2 Challenges will include home based actions and influencing others. I offer you no prize other than knowing you are becoming part of the solution (and a little self-satisfaction 🙂 ) Let me know your numbers, what works, and what doesn’t.