I’m a recycler. I’ve been one since I started a small community recycling program, in the mid-1970s, when I was about 9 or 10 as a 4-H project. I have also been active in implementing recycling programs at many universities, in the 80s, 90s, and 00s, in one of my prior careers.

All things that are recyclable on SWALLOW are recycled: glass, tin, aluminum, plastic containers and paper. This is actually difficult as most Salish Sea land-side locations don’t recycle, or do so on a limited basis (only plastic bottles and aluminum cans). I’ve found finding locations to recycle paper and tin cans the greatest challenge. With the lack of recycling locations there are times I have quite a large stash of recyclables stored on SWALLOW as I cruise around the Salish Sea.

I also find that those locations with recycling boaters contaminate the bins making the items collected unusable. This is actually a problem for most recycling as many people don’t follow the procedures.

The number one failing is plastic bags. I don’t mean trying to recycle a bag, which in general you can’t, I mean boaters are putting their recycled items into a container in a plastic bag.

A recycling container contaminated with bags and film plastic.

Simply – when a plastic bag is placed into a recycling container this means that it is very likely the company sorting the bin will throw ALL contents into a landfill. Why? Because plastic bags clog the automated recycling machines!

Recycling is a active process that takes thought and careful following of the instructions. Each location has different rules and procedures. What you do at home is likely not going to work when you are visiting another community. When the recycling bins are contaminated the entire collection goes into the landfill – and at some locations this means eventually being dumped into the ocean!

Please follow the posted rules. Do right. Save the planet.

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