Tonight on “The Green”: Recycling — Beyond the Blue Bin

Ken Wells and Nancy Jo Craig, both featured in β€œRecycle” episode of Sundance Channel’s Big Ideas for a Small PlanetDo you recycle?

The seemingly innocuous question comes with all sorts of ethical baggage these days: for many Americans, recycling is not just an initial step into a greener life, but also an activity suffused with moral weight. While many will argue about the significance of individuals and families recycling items they might otherwise throw away, there’s no doubt that creative and innovative reuse of materials is critical for the health of the planet… and the people who reside on it (along with all of those other species). Tonight, the Sundance Channel’s Big Ideas for a Small Planet goes beyond the blue bin many of us place on the curb, and looks at three organizations that are taking recycling in some interesting, and effective, directions.

Ever been to the dump? If so, it probably didn’t look like Sonoma County, California’s, which manager Ken Wells (pictured on the left) describes as a “mining operation for the trash of your life.” Yes, there’s a landfill, but there’s also a composting center, an organic garden, a reuse store, and a power plant that creates electricity from landfill gas (enough to power about 7000 homes). Accessory design shop Ecoist, in Miami, definitely looks more upscale, but they’re also reusing materials that would otherwise go to waste: in this case, misprinted or otherwise flawed packaging, and movie billboards. And Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s Capital Area Corporate Recycling Council (CACRC) gathers used computers on a massive scale, “dematerializes” those that aren’t in working condition, and repairs those that are to sell cheaply or donate to public school programs. As in earlier episodes, many of the “big ideas” presented come from ordinary people (well, ordinary people with extraordinary imaginations). And, of course, folks known for their own big ideas provide commentary: David Suzuki, Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Anne Reichman of Earth 911, and Sundance’s own Simran Sethi.

Following Big Ideas, the Sundance Channel presents the eco-documentary Burning the Future: Coal in America. According to press materials,

This timely documentary takes us to the Appalachian Mountains of southern West Virginia to explore the political, economic and environmental issues surrounding coal, the source of more than half of U.S. electricity. At particular issue is the controversial above-ground mining technique known as mountaintop removal, which is defended as safe by the coal industry but opposed by a growing number of residents who believe it is a threat their land, their health and their unique way of life.

If you liked Big Coal, this sounds like one you won’t want to miss.

Finally, keep in mind that there’s Sundance schwag to win: Sundance’s own “What’s the Big Idea?” contest is still taking entries, and we’re giving away a Sundance giftbag to one lucky subscriber to our biweekly newsletter.

Images courtesy of Special Ops MediaΒ 

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