In search of the truth, Special Agents William Neal and Patrick Cuccaro explore the mysterious Green world of sustainable special events and catering. What myths will they shatter? What will they uncover?
The Truth is out there…so we’re told.
In Episode 13, Agent Cuccaro relayed several facts about the chicken industry, showing us as consumers just how powerful our purchasing power can be. William will now tell us about one of his most personal and important investigations. Sometimes things don’t appear as they are in reality, so this week William and Patrick go undercover to find out the truth about a local municipal recycling program and discover how that plastic bottle you use may end up in our oceans.
PATRICK: Agent N, I’m still spinning from all that important material we uncovered about my drugged up chickens! Thanks for highlighting those facts and helping our readers to be more informed. We have made the purchasing adjustments in our home and feel much better as a result.
WILLIAM: Good stuff, Patrick! It feels great when we can have some power as a consumer. So regarding that county recycling truck I followed… Well, I didn’t. Not yet anyway.
PATRICK: Why in the world not, Agent N? You’ve got the tracking skills of a pedigree bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out Green posers, waste and abuse of the consumer!
WILLIAM: My reasoning was simple really. Those were some friendly dudes hanging off that truck…they were working hard, too! I just didn’t want to get anyone upset, so I chickened-out on the surveillance. Natural, hormone- and antibiotic-free chickening-out, of course!
PATRICK: So, just exactly how are you going to explain this to your kids? You had this whole surveillance plan in place so you could teach them about “where that plastic bottle goes”.
WILLIAM: Agent Cuccaro, I did my research. And further, I tapped into my kid’s school lessons. When I spoke to my son about “where all the recycled materials go”, I was surprised! He actually told me a pretty accurate tale of what is supposed to happen with various recyclables, from a first graders view, that is. I was blown away that the schools seem to try hard to offer some “Green Ed” at a very young age.
PATRICK: Yes, they are certainly ramping up that type of info in schools. But what are we, shall we say, “mature” folks to do when it comes to truly understanding the recycling processes where we live?
WILLIAM: As a taxpayer in your district or municipality, you can be sure that in the last few years some sustainability initiatives have been developed. The City of Atlanta, for instance, way back in 1978, began a program called Keep Atlanta Beautiful, which acts as an advisory board and community organizer to move sustainable practices forward on a municipal level. It’s an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc., which most “mature” Americans will remember because of this guy:
PATRICK: I remember him well! It was a strong message the first time I saw it and it’s still just as compelling in today’s world. Actually, the message may be even more critical now considering how the planet has been harmed in so many preventable ways. Those tears he shed are real.
WILLIAM: Yes, for sure. So many areas around our city, our state and across the country have various organizations that expend tremendous energy and gather untold resources to help Green causes. They often have helpful materials or can provide resources that educate caring individuals who want to be part of the solutions.
Many have fantastic volunteer programs in place, too, some of which can get the whole family involved. Keep Atlanta Beautiful has an amazing Community Recycling initiative in place that offers outlets for folks to recycle everything from electronics to paint. It’s not just plastic, cardboard and Styrofoam anymore!
The long and short of it is really this:
It comes down to the individual and their practices of sustainability in their daily lives. So, listen up, Agent C, because this is where I bring it back to being personal for me as an individual and for my family.
As my son and I talked things over, I couldn’t help but think where in fact do MOST of the potentially recyclable materials around the world end up? Rivers and oceans, that’s where! So many nations, both developed and undeveloped, have really scary practices in place that dump millions of pounds of assorted waste into the sea, or in some instances, into their primary water source! Insanity on the loose! I can cite some pretty extreme examples in China and a few other countries around the world.
Read this: How Much Are We Trashing Our Oceans?
PATRICK: Wow, that is some depressing stuff, Agent N. I would much rather have heard about you getting into a brawl with those recycling truck dudes you mentioned!
WILLIAM: I am sure that would have been entertaining, but entertain this: My son, one individual at seven years old, KNOWS that it is bad for Mother Nature when we don’t make the individual efforts to recycle at home or anywhere we occupy space in our daily lives. Our schools, our workplace, anywhere we consume are great places to apply some planet-saving steps to our daily process. At a young age, he has started to grasp reality and WANTS to apply that tremendous energy to what is fundamentally the right thing to do.
PATRICK: From another angle, many of the things we have discussed in our articles from the inception of The Green Files collectively could make a difference if practiced daily. Like buying locally. Encouraging the availability of organic foods at the places we shop. Build a garden or plant a tree. Recycle and repurpose everything you can.
But most importantly, let your tax-paying voice be heard on a local level that sustainability is not only important and trending larger every day, but that in fact we expect our municipalities to put the programs, tools and funding in place to facilitate citizen participation in all things Green.
WILLIAM: You are so right, Agent C, about the collective force and energy that can actually make a difference…locally and globally! Now I just hope that those bins of household materials that we sort make it to the right places to convert the garbage to something new and useful. I don’t want the slight-of-hand that says, “Now you see it, now you don’t, so it really doesn’t matter”. I want measurable results and I want them for my kids’ futures.
PATRICK: Well, it sounds like your son might be following in your special agent shoes, wouldn’t you say?
WILLIAM: Absolutely! He wants me to install a tracking device on that recycling truck the next time they drive by!
To be continued…
Do you know what happens to your recycling? Have you ever investigated where the recoverable materials you’re diverting from landfills is actually going? Please, share with us in the comments section below.
Join us next week when Special Agents Patrick Cuccaro and William Neal talk about the super exciting arrival of spring…and how to plan for it with “Green” in mind.
This week’s 3Rs…
REVEALED: Georgia State Arbor Day
REVERED: Chattahoochee Riverkeepper
REVILED: Trash In Our Oceans