Jazzed About Nature Podcast | Episode 1: Is Recycling A Scam?

Jazzed About Nature Podcast | Episode 1: Is Recycling A Scam?


Jasmine Lowe:
Where do your items go when you toss them into the recycling bin? Does recycling actually helps save the planet
or is it all the scam? These were questions I heard many of my friends
ask questions that I would get answers to by phoning a friend. Hello and welcome to the jazz about nature
podcast, the show where I chat about all things related to the environment and here today
with Jena Galindo, she spends her time taking gorgeous nature photos, portraits and events
for her business Jena Galindo Photography. She also has previous experience working in
the waste management and recycling industry and I want to talk a little bit more about
that today. Jena Galindo:
I have very limited especially compared to so many people in the industry that make a
career out of it. Definitely knowing that this is not going
to be my career, but it was a great opportunity at the time. Help you save money, start my photography
business and kind of just get things off the ground. For me I was there for four years, waste and
recycling transfer station and the first two years was pretty basic. I was actually a scale house attendance, so
a lot of just interacting with the customers going in and out in schools. Jasmine Lowe:
Awesome. Jena Galindo:
Yeah, so everybody kind of knew their role, but I think looking at the grander picture
of what we did was kind of lost a lot of people. I did learn a lot more about the industry
and what are two and a half years about. Let me just kind of start asking some questions
on my downtime and set a time when I wasn’t in the way that we do. Jena Galindo:
These were contracts. We primarily, we’re contracted with us to
collect all their trash and recycling. And oftentimes we just have many residents
just bring stuff in on their own as you would a regular dump, just selling and paying your
fee kind of thing. So price is varied thing on how heavy everything
was by the time. Stuff that was just going to go to the landfill. We had trucks in and out all day. That was just transferring. Just regular ways that we could only have
no all day long, all week long. Constantly. Then the recycling materials, we would have
orders and sort a lot of these recycling materials. Some things like paper or plastic metal, like
aluminum primarily. Jena Galindo:
It’s not very recyclable primarily in our area. Recycling really sometimes depends on your
area and what the different plants and processing centers can handle. Living in a small county more limited options. They prevailed and after we got a certain
bail count, like let’s see, 40 40 bales or something, you wouldn’t have a large enough
male too have a load picked up. So what we would do is we would send out these. It’s two different recycling companies that
would recycle that kind of item to people we came in touch with over the years and just
tried to snap, stayed on. So if we were sending out paper, paper did
actually pretty darn well recycling wise for papers. We would let them know, but the tonnage was
and how many bales we had. We send them pictures of what the material
looks like. But the big thing was we had a really good
cleanliness rate for every recyclable material that shipped out. Jena Galindo:
There’s kind of a percentage that you have to meet that is clean and not contaminated. And we had a very low level of contamination
and we had a very small plant. But considering, you know, we only had about,
Oh I don’t know, 10 sorters or something on the line. Everybody works very, very hard. I didn’t really get drawn to that. But you know, a lot of people find more on,
you know, just videos on YouTube. If you look up, Transfer stations there’s
a lot of great, a lot of them are completely automated with a very small amount of already. Um, so something that’s kind of going out
now, for instance, one of those towns started integrating more organic recycling to pizza
boxes tend to have a lot of grease on them. Food grease is another thing. The hard thing about all of this, in reality,
I mean we could go into how we need to try to keep everything clean and everything, but
just industry. Why is the reason, real reason why this all
is very important is because these businesses are buying them. And so it comes down to how valuable they
are sometimes. and it really is easier to sell a product
when it’s good Jasmine Lowe:
Yeah, when it’s not covered in pizza grease. Jena Galindo:
Yeah, when it’s not covered in pizza grease. Jena Galindo:
Recycling napkins and stuff of a, this was all kind of going into, composting is what
they called it I, it was something that we were kind of just trying to get into when
I was leaving but it was hard because only one time I was doing it to other towns didn’t
care. We did what we could with the resources we
had. Some people are surprised, people are surprised
by what they can’t recycle. Styrofoam probably the least recyclable material
in the world. Yes, like there’s more science going into
where people are figuring out how two for me a little or not even change the formula,
but take an item and find a new way to technically break it down so that it can be, you know,
kind of chemically reconstructed too. You can be used again. However, that is a very new technology that’s
very, very new technology. It’s not something that I’d be looking into
any time soon. Still completely pretty much market value
for it. Jena Galindo:
So it’ll go on straight into the landfill. Things like washers, it depends again on your
facility. Depends on your area and what they can do. Recycles. They went metal company that we had contracts
with us who would pick up things weekly. I like that we actually didn’t get very much. I was living in California. You can hold on sure. Aluminum cans and your water bottles and you
can redeem them for cash. And so that’s what a lot of people would do. So we really didn’t get very much, we probably
only did aluminum cans probably about, I dunno, every six months or so. Possibly it was, it was not very often. There were some things that were sold weekly
or biweekly, so as waiting something, waiting for something for months was a big deal. Jena Galindo:
It still sold very well, but they weren’t actually a big deal with our company because
they didn’t sell. It didn’t matter that I did price because
it didn’t sell often. Nothing. We didn’t get enough man, so it actually wasn’t,
you know what most people would think, you know, you would make a lot of money off of
it wasn’t a good, well, you can just recycle it. I don’t remember how many that was. The times it’s, I think it’s kind of for the
most part infinite thing. Most people will just go and redeem them themselves. They’ll hold on their aluminum cans, they’ll
go over, deem them at a, usually pay you in cash or either the weight or the number of
cans, however many you have. I think it’s after a certain or something
like that that they do it by weight. Jena Galindo:
But we’ll just, which is why they don’t actually the system. So it’s actually a good thing for, yeah, I
mean that’s kind of the devil with the industry is you know, when things are kind of going
well and people are recycling properly and there’s other ways for a cycle without taking
things to the landfill or recycle without sending them out of the country and just shifting
them away. Then I think the industry has, it is right
now suffers and I think we saw a lot of that last year, but I just kinda like look on the
positive side about it. You know what means we’re moving forward and
changes on the horizon. Jasmine Lowe:
The majority of Americans do not recycle things properly. There was an article published last year in
National Geographic about the planets recycling ending up in landfills. It was shared that the vast majority, about
79% is accumulating and landfills are sloughing off into the natural environment is litter
meaning at some point, much of it ends up in the oceans. The final sink. If present trends continue by 2050 there will
be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills according to waste management and American
trash collecting company. In a Mic article last year, the average recycling
contamination rate or disposal of trash or recyclables in the wrong recycling bin is
about 25% for Americans, meaning one in four items thrown in a recycling bin isn’t recyclable. Jena Galindo:
I always recommend contacting your local city, to see what’s available. Not only are States different but cities are
different too. I’ve had so many people move to our area where
I worked and they things are always very, very different for where they were before. Jasmine Lowe:
There’s also the issue of illegal dumping. I’ve had many friends talk about illegal dumping
and these were mostly the friends who lived in more rural areas, illegal dumping or dumping
of waste illegally. Instead of using authorize methods such as
curbside collection or using an authorized rubbish dump is the illegal deposit of any
waste onto land including waste dumped or tipped on a site with no license to accept
waste. And the reason why you don’t want to do this
is because about one gallon of oil can actually contaminate 1 million gallons of water or
the equivalent to a year supply of water for 50 people. It ruins crops, soil, and these dumpsites
actually breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other insects, bugs and wild animals to gather. And a lot of these insects and bugs and animals
can spread harmful diseases. And on top of all that you can get fined if
you’re caught, but many people still dump illegally anyway, Jena Galindo:
So I mean it’s always bad. Be a human being and be responsible for your
own staff. It really came down to was, you know, like
I said, dropped off stuff. It’d be my weight surcharges, we get a lot
of tires. Tires will drop off at the facility I worked
at would be $3 a car tire. So if you have four of them, they’d have to
be $12 It wouldn’t break the bank, but we had a lot of people I guess. who would just dump it, you know? Not only is that high contamination of the
soil and everything like that, but more often not just because they’re in plastic bags,
they were usually somewhat protected. Yes. On other people’s property. What happens is it becomes that other person’s
problem. That’s their expense and, and I think a lot
of people don’t care about that, which is a shame. And if you’re just kind of a crummy human
beings, there’s not really much I can say surge you, I dunno, being that person, like
I kind of wish people would do their research mattresses, but then we got on a program called
“Bye Bye Mattress” and so we were able to then take mattresses for free no matter what. Even if they were dirty, if they had bed bugs,
whatever I need. Okay. I expect to see the facility. But we were very true to the fact that we
took all mattresses minus businesses. There were hotels that would try to bring
like, you know, 200 mattresses or something at that point. At that point they were charged trash. There were some things in our area that just
excluded discusses, but for the most part, you know, if you get a mattress on the side
of the road, it would kind of peeve me quite the afterwards. Jena Galindo:
They could go dump this for free. Big deal. And I remember one time I also saw a TV halfway
in the mud in our field and it was another thing that kind of peeved me off because they
took TVs for free, no charge. So they could’ve just dropped it there again. And it’s, you know, it’s, it’s just kinda
one of those things where it’s like, obviously you’re kind of like, well, a crummy human
being, you don’t care. Maybe surprise is just that you don’t want
to put in the effort to do any of the research, write things well. If you ever come across such a thing available
in your area, you know it would be like a really simple solution. Jasmine Lowe:
People are not very educated or they don’t share, you know, enough to recycle or dispose
of their waste properly. What advice do you have for anyone who actually
wants to start recycling in their own homes? Jena Galindo:
It really depends on your lifestyle. Uh, for us, one thing that was really big
in California was we did go in and redeem bottles as in our area. there was very, very hard water. I decided Oh water in the sink is good. here where I am in Texas. It.’s Actually pretty pretty good actually. And so if you have a good water source, I
would really recommend like maybe going to Walmart and getting like some plastic bottles
that are reusable. I bought plastic bottles a few months ago. Our water was good and I wanted to stop using
plastic bottles. I live in Texas now. So finding a redemption center is not a thing. Recycling here is a little more challenging. You’re using that if that’s as your only water
source. So you know I went to Walmart, got eight bottles,
spending dollars, they were a dollar and you know, that was like nothing. So I was like great. And they’ve been going great for month and
so actually I’m sure I’d saved a bunch of money because water bottle and California
water bottles in California were very expensive. Jena Galindo:
No, just using the water that we get from the well out here and using eight dollar bottles. Yeah, we’ve saved so much money. I think that was like a really simple thing. If you have good water, every useful plastics,
reusable metal straw and it’s something that you keep in your purse, with like a little
case or something. And it’s super simple and it’s super easy
to clean. And I think those are like little things. One right now, you know, California’s trying
to ban plastic straws and a lot of people are having a fit about it, but it’s actually,
we actually went into this at work too, the reason for this is really that, you know,
a lot of this stuff is sorted. Straws are really small pieces of plastic
and get overlooked. And if you think about it, if you are a person
that you know, goes out to once, twice a day, maybe even more. Jena Galindo:
I remember my mom used to go and get like eight Starbucks is a day straws just with
her straw pluses. Yeah. Just with her Starbucks. Not including, you know, if she went out to
a restaurant and had a straw, you know. And then your straw breaks or something like
that and you get another straw. You know it’s not a big deal, but think about
a million people doing that. You know, like in the course of a day you
could be using three millions straws. Think about what 3 million straws could look
like. That can be substantial. So it’s really just one of those things that
it’s, it’s literally very small thing to make difference. All things. I try to wean people away from plastics because
there’s a lot of different kinds of plastics. So therefore it can be kind of hard to identify
sometimes and recycle. And it was something to wean people of it. Something small that actually does make a
big difference when combined. So it’s like is people did that just one straw
cause it’s not completely legal at this point. I know they’re trying to, yes, that you really
do see how they were trying to like, Jasmine Lowe:
So there’s actually a reason why there’s not a flat out ban and plastic straws. Single use plastics are among the top pollutants
on the earth and in our oceans. Avoiding plastic straws and other single use
plastic products is a stepping stone to decrease such waste. However, people mobility issues and strength
issues where they can’t lift up cups high enough to drink them need straws and some
cases they may need to sip hot liquids like soup and can be burned by compostable or metal
straws. I’ve seen some thicker reusable plastic straws
out there, but many of those straws can’t handle the hotter temperatures either. The solution shift from banning straws to
pressuring the manufacturers and corporations to create an environmentally and disability
friendly alternative. Jasmine Lowe:
This was really good advice. Hearing more about how we can take those initial
steps that sort of impact our world and in a positive ways is really great. Was there anything else that you wanted to
add or share with the listeners before we conclude our conversation today? Jena Galindo:
Yeah, I mean I gave a couple examples of you know, ways you can cut down on plastic because
plastic is kind of the hardest thing. A water bottle is it those two or three types
of plastic? You have the plastic in the clear portion
of the bottle you have the plastic cap and then sometimes that plastic ring, sometimes
different plastic too. And then different brands of water we use
different kinds of times. So it’s just, it’s, it’s something that can
be difficult to recycle. It’s, it’s kind of why people are going after
plastic right now. But you want to look into other ways that
you can start recycling in a small way. There’s CalRecycle.ca.gov is a great resource
for California. So you go in, you know, kind of do your own
research. I always say just people just do your own
research and see what works for you. A website I used to really enjoy was also
earth911 and I think it was just earth911.com it was pretty simple, but if you just Google
earth title don’t, I know it’ll have a little also a lot of like really friends and little
easy ways to make some changes in your lane, but if you wanted to go see more things that
or you wanted to know how to replace your shampoo bottles or something with something
else that’s kind of a website for a great little place to get some ideas. We can all try to do a little something that
will help actually it really will, Jasmine Lowe:
I want to thank you again today for chatting with me and I hope to chat with you again
soon. Jena Galindo:
Yeah, no it was, it was a lot of fun and yeah, hope. I hope I’m invited back sometime. Jasmine Lowe:
you can check out the show notes for more information on how you can better reduce reuse
and recycle materials and properly discard of waste. You can also message me if you or someone
you know would like to be on the show and share their insight on the environment, diversity,
nature, and the outdoors or other relevant topics. Just remember that no matter what you do,
you should always think globally and act locally.

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