Becca from Louisville

My family recycles all the plastic bottles and cans from our drinks. Water, soda, juice, and milk are all contained in a transparent lightweight material, that will soon lead to the destruction of our biosphere. These plastics are used by nearly everyone in the world every day. However, I do not use single-use plastic water bottles; I use reusable cups or water bottles that last a lifetime. Therefore, I have a leg up in recycling.

My family and I also create eco-bricks or bottle bricks. Bottle bricks are plastic bottles that are stuffed with other plastics so that the bottles are dense and hard as a brick. All of the plastics come straight from my home and my mother’s at-home-daycare. There are eventually bags full of plastics that accumulate in my room by the end of the week from the containers and packages of personal care products or food wrappers (specifically Nutri-Grain bars from the daycare). We barely have to take out the trash anymore when we save up plastic. After my friends and I make the bottle bricks, we drop them off at a location where they send them to developing countries to use as substitute bricks. People in those countries use the bricks to build houses, buildings, and infrastructure.

Our world produces so much plastic; it is disgusting. I did the math and calculated that we recycle at least three trash bags full of plastic bottles and cardboard a week. That is 156 bags a year that we recycle. That is a lot for a family, and that is not counting the other plastics either. Every other family that is not recycling is potentially putting 156 bags full of plastic and more in someone else’s backyard, landfill, or ocean. I wonder if they would recycle if the plastics ended up in their backyard?

Large power-hungry corporations need to take responsibility and stop using plastic. Sure plastic is a cheap and easy way of packaging products, but there won’t be anyone left to sell the products to if our world gets destroyed by climate change. Plastics in landfills release carbon dioxide when they break down. When plastics are burned or incinerated, they release greenhouse gases. There are no environmental benefits to plastics.

I feel mad, angry, irritated that I have to recycle at all. Humans are a brilliant and intelligent species; we have created and invented some amazing things in the world. So my question is why can’t we use an alternative to plastics? A more sustainable option for packaging can be paper or cloth bags for groceries or limiting the amount of single-use water bottles a person uses. We need to take action.

Plastics collected for recycling

Becca’s story is part of a collaborative project by Acclimatewest, Bioneers, and Mycelium Youth Network and WeRise to lift up youth voices in difficult times.  To hear other stories from the project check out this podcast produced by WeRise.