Recycling, quite simply, is not always the answer. Using reusable containers is a better solution whenever it’s practical. The article doesn’t really get into the times when recycling really is the best option, however. There’s only so much paper you can reuse, even with children all too interested in doing crafts.
But when you’re talking about drink containers, reusable is a great idea. That’s why buying reusable bottles is so encouraged, rather than buying bottled water.
It’s more difficult with a lot of other drinks. In my area I can save a lot by buying milk in gallons rather than half gallons. The cartons are more recyclable, of course, but the gallon jugs are at least #2 plastic, and so reasonably recyclable.
The challenge with putting larger quantities of milk into something more reusable or recyclable is that they would probably end up heavier. Glass bottles are great for reusing or recycling, but they’re HEAVY in comparison with plastic or cartons.
Then again, I have read about the new milk jugs Walmart has been distributing since earlier this year. They’re more efficient for storage and transportation. Reusable would be nice, but we can’t have everything every time.
The part we as consumers need to look at, of course, is whether we can encourage more reusable containers where recyclable ones are now preferred. We also need to consider how these containers get back for refills. Should they just go in with the current recyclables for convenience, and then be shipped from a central point? Will enough people bring back reusable containers even to get a deposit back?
It’s rarely so simple a question. But we need an answer.
For now, when you shop, think about not just recyclable containers, but reusable as well. They don’t have to be reused by you, but there’s a reason why reuse is more important than recycle.