Did you know they’re recyclable? Milk cartons, that is. In our vegan efforts we switched to non-dairy milk years ago. Unfortunately the plant-based milk industry doesn’t use gallon containers, so we buy the 2 quart (sometimes smaller) paper cartons. Our community has a pretty good recycling program, but it doesn’t include cartons. They are perfectly recyclable, however. I’m saving them up to mail to the places Carton Council lists. We can reduce waste, if we have a will to do so. I know people who live in states with no recycling programs. These states tend to lean red. The world, however, doesn’t belong to anyone. We need to learn to pick up after ourselves. Take a look at the Carton Council webpage. Sign their petition.
A large part of the problem is that we’ve allowed ourselves to be convinced that happiness involves consuming. Our entire capitalist system is based on consumption. We over-package what we consume, comestible or not. There’s the ubiquitous plastic wrap, the box, the inner lining. Often you can’t find the item you need in a local store so it has to be shipped. All that wrapping. All that waste. One of the things environmentalists know well is that people quickly lose enthusiasm for saving their only planet. The topic is depressing and overwhelming. We’ve been living like there’s no tomorrow for at least half a century now. Small steps can help, however. Paying to ship recyclables afield isn’t the perfect solution, but it feels better to be doing something.
Economics is called the dismal science for a reason. At the root of it, it seems, is that we’ve valued money above humanity. And our environment. One thing that Christianity got right, before it was sold, is that we should think of others. Capitalism sees others in terms of assets or liabilities. If our actions harm others—including the unborn that evangelicals are so concerned for—shouldn’t we be doing something about it instead of sitting around waiting for a miracle? Some containers simply can’t be recycled. Some devices can’t be made without rare earth metals. Some jobs requite on-site workers and the travel they expend. Not all goods are found where they’re needed. But we can stop wasting perfectly good recyclable materials. Clothes returned to online retailers often end up in the trash. Why can’t what is sold also be given away if returned? At least the needy could keep warm. Maybe it’s possible to make that dismal old science smile by taking care of the resources we have.