Have you ever really thought about where your trash goes once you throw it away? In three short stories, Neat People vs. Sloppy People by Suzanne Britt, Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic…Are We? by Susan Casey, and On Dumpster Diving by Lars Eighner, the characters, as well as the authors each, have unique ways they recycle and reuse trash. There are also many other people in the world that repurpose trash to sell, which not only benefits themselves, but it helps our earth stay cleaner, keeping trash out of the ocean. Without the work of honorable people like them, our planet would be a lot more polluted.
Each author’s story is unique but they all focus on recycling and reusing trash. Suzanne Britt, the author of Neat People vs. Sloppy People, writes her story about her personal observations. Her story focuses on how sloppy people became sloppy and how they differ from neat people. Susan Casey, the author of Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic…Are We? is a researcher. Her story is about a man that discovered an island of trash in the Pacific Ocean called the “Eastern Garbage Patch”. But later in the story targets, the consequences of plastic and littering, this part of the text is loaded with facts and data that support every argument. Lars Eighner, the author of On Dumpster Diving, experienced his story first hand, at a time when he was homeless. He tells of a time when he had to dig in dumpsters, and what he would find, as well as what he had to do to make ends meet. It is a well-written story of what it is like to be a homeless person and the everyday struggles homeless people face. Each story is unique with a different perspective on reasons to reuse/recycle and the authors did a superb job of expressing their opinions, as well as supporting their opinions.
In each of the short stories, Neat People vs. Sloppy People, Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic…Are We?, and On Dumpster Diving, the authors relate to reusing trash products in their own ways. In Neat people vs. Sloppy People, the author, Suzanne Britt says “For all these noble reasons and more, sloppy people never get neat. They aim too high and too wide. They save everything, planning someday to file, order, and straighten out the world.” (Britt, para. 4) The author is stating that sloppy people intend to make use of their old things and refuse to throw them away because they insist that they will reuse them in some way one day. Without people like them these everyday products like newspapers, magazines, ticket stubs, and receipts, would be all over our streets making our towns and cities even more polluted. In Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic…Are We? By Susan Casey, she explains that “Turning up the heat to sear these off, and some plastics release deadly vapors. So the reclaimed stuff is mostly used to make entirely different products, things that don’t go anywhere near our mouths, such as fleece jackets and carpeting.” (Casey, para. 20) She is stating that the plastics you recycle are not going to be made back into what you threw away. For example, if you throw away a plastic milk bottle, chances are it will not be made back into a milk bottle, they will be made into a totally new product, for example, carpets, fleece jackets or even playground equipment. One of the benefits of recycling plastic to make products is that we can conserve virgin materials. In the last story On Dumpster Diving, by Lars Eightner the author highlights how he recycles in a different way than most. “Except for jeans, all my clothes came from Dumpsters. Boomboxes, candles, bedding, toilet paper, medicine, books, a typewriter, dishes, furnishing, and change, sometimes accounting for many dollars–I acquire many things from the Dumpsters.” (Eighner, para. 5) He finds almost everything from dumpsters, turning one man’s trash into his own treasure, saving a lot of trash from finding its way to the landfill. Homeless people like him are greatly helping to reduce the number of items go into landfills every day. While more fortunate people may throw things away that might not need to be thrown away, scavengers, like the author, can put good use to them; keeping them out of the landfill. Each author reuses and recycles in their own ways, and many others that do the same, some even making money from their efforts to save the planet.
There are companies in the world that are not only focused on their own personal gain, but they also have our planet’s best interest in mind as well. A company called 4ocean was founded by two college students, Andrew Cooper and Alex Schulze. These two young men started their company after they took a trip to Bali and witnessed how polluted the oceans were. One thing that astonished them the most was all of the trash that was washing up on the shores. They decided to start their own company that would clean up the oceans while reusing and recycling the trash that was found. You can find their boats along the shores of Haiti, Bali, and Florida, collecting trash, later turning it into their affordable bracelets; made from fishing nets with beads made from plastic and glass. They pledge to remove one pound of trash for every item bought from their website, 4ocean.com. This company perfectly ties into the story Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic…Are We? by Susan Casey, like the trash described in this story, the products 4ocean recycles have been greatly affecting sea life. A similar company called Green Toys, based out of California, makes toys out of recycled plastic. They construct timeless toys such as cars, trucks, planes, trains, boats, and more. Their toys are created out of recycled plastic milk jugs and yogurt cups that have been shredded down, then mixed with food-safe, mineral-based coloring. As if those efforts are not enough, they package and ship their products in 100% recycled cardboard, no plastic at all. the products being made for children are made from items you would find in dumpsters or trash cans similar to items described in, On Dumpster Diving by Lars Eighner. The last company is called Rothy’s, based in San Francisco, they make women’s shoes out of recycled water bottles and foam. Their shoes are made out of shredded water bottles for the souls and their signature thread is made from plastic water bottles as well. The padding in the soul is made from recycled foam and cloth. Their factory is owned and operated in Dongguan, China and sets the standard for other manufacturers, striving every day for zero waste. This company reminds me of both Our Oceans Are Turning into Plastic…Are We? And On Dumpster Diving because they recycle plastic bottles which are helping keep them out of the ocean and other bodies of water. In the story On Dumpster Diving the author states, “Except for jeans, all my clothes came from Dumpsters.” (Eighner, para.5) The author wears shoes found in the dumpster, similarly, this company is making shoes from items found in dumpsters. Without companies like these and many others, our planet would have a lot more plastic in landfills and pollution in our oceans, the ground, and on our beautiful beaches.
The way each author explains how they reuse and recycle in their short stories may be different, they are also very similar in that they are each striving to make a difference in the world. They all teach us that it is time we all start looking for a change and make changes that will help save our planet, for lifetimes to come.