Recyclable plastic may go off shore for processing by children

I am horrified and ashamed. I am sorry and please forgive me.

My avid recycling of plastic into our council recycling bin may well be harming children in third world countries.

You see, our baled recyclables (cans, tins, paper, plastic) get transported to a huge recycling market in our capital city. There is no guarantee that our waste stays in Australia to be recycled into goods here. No sir. It comes down to who is offering the best price and who has need for product on any particular day.

The plastic I recycle may well end up in China or India, being sorted through and melted down by children exposed to bacteria, toxins and our s*it! This is outrageous and makes me a hypocrite as a child protection professional.

This has disturbed me greatly. Read what I had to say about the connection between this and child protection back in January 2012: Where does your recycling go?

Don’t want to go there? Let me take you there! This is what I said in the post:

…sells post-consumer waste to India or China where families (including children) hand-pick through it looking for the most recyclable material to process. These families get very low wages, work under extremely poor conditions and are exposed to constant health threats.

This has stimulated a growling and sustainable dissonance within my soul. Many [of us] try to eat and buy fair trade products so that no children are harmed in their choices. Yet, as avid recyclers and child protectors, are they exposing children to something they don’t want; something sinister?

Rather than result in a crying, blubbering, failure of a recycled craftist and eco social-worker, this has spurred me to make sure that more of the plastics that come my way are turned into art and craft material. More workshops, more DIY kits and more retail items as a way to protect children and families in third world countries from our decadent waste.

I am also reinvigorated to continue in my refusal of single use plastics: No more packets of biscuits with their quaint little plastic tray (quaint kills kids in the third world), no more hair products in plastic containers, no more meat on plastic trays. I am going back to shopping at our Community Foods Co-op where re-used glass and paper bags are the sum of the packaging. This is much more ethical and socially just.

REFUSE plastic packaging and keep a kid alive. It’s down to you to say, “no.” It’s that easy.

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Our model is simple: People, Planet and Profit. Mass action of individual home based effort through recycled craft makes a HUGE difference to environmental fitness.