Recently, we learned that glass will no longer be included in our local recycling program. Instead, magazines will be replacing glass. I’m thrilled about the magazines, but not so thrilled about the glass. This comes at a time when I’ve committed to purchasing food products in glass instead of plastic or even aluminum because of bisphenal-A (which some studies show is linked with obesity, cancer, and learning disabilities among other negatives). And, I don’t plan to revert back. It reminds me of having to choose between mushrooms that are grown locally but are packaged in plastic vs. mushrooms that come from Pennsylvania but are in bulk. No choice feels that great – local vs. less packaging and now BPA and recyclable vs. BPA-free but not recyclable.
The contracted company has told our county that the market for glass has dwindled. It makes sense but after doing a little research I can find nothing to support this claim. There appears to be a robust recycling market for glass. I assume that part of the reason is the weight of the glass and the added cost of transporting it. Even if the county makes no profit on the venture, shouldn’t it be continued because it is the right thing to do?
Now, I am left wondering how to proceed. I continue to collect glass, but soon I will have to stop unless I can find a use for it. I can’t let it pile up in my garage, but at the same time, I don’t know if I can bear to throw it in the garbage. It just feels so wrong.
Even though I’m not a crafty person, I searched online for ways to re-use glass. For a while now I’ve had visions of making drinking glasses out of bottles. As a kid I watched those K-tel commercials that featured a bottle cutter to produce interesting drinking glasses. And, apparently similar bottle cutters are still available on-line or in select hardware stores. I also discovered information on making sea glass in a rock tumbler. We’ve got a rock tumbler and I make mosaics and could use the sea glass. So, my goal is to attempt each of these projects even though it feels a bit daunting. If they don’t work I guess the glass will have to be disposed of, like it or not.
And, on a side note, I think this would be a perfect time to implement a recycling refund in Minnesota. If a deposit was paid on glass bottles at the time of purchase and a system was in place to reimburse the deposit, residents who live in communities like mine would especially benefit. Not all glass would get recycled but it would make a huge dent into what would otherwise go in the trash. For more information, check out this link.
Kristin Eggerling is a board member for Conservation Minnesota Voter Center, the mother of two, and a freelance writer in northwestern Minnesota.