Friday, April 16, 2010

My Letter to the "Honolulu Weekly"

I sent an email letter to the editor of the Honolulu Weekly over a week ago, with the topic being the encouragement of plastic recycling - specifically, types 1 and 2 plastic - by businesses donating their empty plastic containers, primarily the bottles that their maintenance crews had leftover after the daily cleanings of their office buildings. Office buildings and shopping centers have to be cleaned everyday and I assume that most of the cleaning products come in plastic bottles, probably type 2 plastic.

When the most recent issue of the Weekly came out, it had a cover story related to recycling, as well as reuse and reduction of consumption. I was quite surprised that they didn't print my letter, which was fully in-line with their cover story. I am hopeful that they may print it in the next issue, but they didn't even mention that people could drop-off recyclables at public schools, which helps the schools raise funds for school activities.

In the event that the Honolulu Weekly decides not to publish my letter in the future, I reprint it below. After I sent the letter to them, I also forwarded it to several people in the Hawaii Department of Education and have been discussing the possibility of beginning such an effort to benefit public schools close to the area of Downtown Honolulu.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on my letter.


Dear Editor,

Many of our public schools participate in fundraising by collecting recyclables, with the money raised going to support school activities.

While most of the recyclables are commonly collected things, such as HI-5 bottles, newspapers, and corrugated cardboard, two types of plastics are also collected at schools that you seldom hear about but are very common in households and businesses: type 1 and type 2 plastics.

What makes these plastics so interesting is how widely they are used. You'll find these plastics used to make containers that hold peanut butter, motor oil, milk, juices, cooking oil, kimchee, liquid laundry detergent and probably most of the jarred or bottled items in your grocery store. Yet, they are seldom collected for recycling. I'd assume that, second to the HI-5 bottles, types 1 and 2 plastic items are the most commonly found plastics in our landfills. Yet, our public schools could benefit if more people donated their empty plastic containers in these recycling drives.

For example, every shopping mall in Hawaii has to be cleaned every day and I assume that most of the cleaning products are contained in type 2 plastic bottles and this includes plastic spray bottles. How many empty plastic containers are simply thrown out with the trash every week or even every day, just from shopping mall cleanings?

If you add the plastics thrown out every week after cleanings at Big Box stores, grocery stores, office buildings and restaurants, you're talking about a lot of plastic containers. Never mind the ones discarded from homes and small businesses.

In order to reduce the amount of these commonly-used plastics ending-up in our landfills, while at the same time providing some financial help to our public schools, I'd like to ask the management and owners of Hawaii's shopping malls to consider donating the empty plastic containers to the public school nearest to their business location. Simply contact that school's administration and let them know that you'd like to make regular weekly donations of plastic recyclables to their fundraising drives. If the owners of other businesses want to join-in and help schools collect type 1 and 2 plastics for recycling, so much the better.

With the financial hits our public schools have taken recently, I'm certain that they would appreciate all the help they can get and it would keep more plastic out of our landfills.

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