Adventures in Recycling

How many of you have actually BEEN to a recycling facility?  I hadn’t…

I drive by a number of them on a daily basis, the metal recycling plants to the south of the West Seattle bridge (freeway for those who remember it that way).   I have shot ‘thought provoking’ video of their smokestacks.  That is about as close as i have gotten.

Enter: “Operation: One Battery at a Time”

Hmm… this means I’ll actually have to find Seattle Iron and Metals Corp. (I have a friend on the inside) and drop off these batteries before they start piling up in their black bags and cause domestic discourse…

So off i go, loading what seems like a fair bit of battery (albeit only two) into the rubbermade tub and punch the name into my iPhone and off we go…  Somehow when i saw it from the East waterway of the Duwamish it didn’t seem like it was going to be a drive over and around…  Deep into the industrial heart of Seattle… Past Costco, even past Matts Famous Chili dogs!   (I didn’t know there was anything beyond that – thought maybe it was like the outlands in Tron or something – just kidding!)

I felt very small in my 4runner with all the big trucks around, bouncing over the tracks, circumnavigating the odd triangular intersections…  Everywhere i looked there was another Semi in some type of coming, going, being loaded, being unloaded…   Finally i was able to zip through an opening and make it onto myrtle drive… (I learned where Cafe D’arte coffee was made as a side note) and there, in the distance i saw the big tower thing, just like on the web page (thank goodness for the internet)  I’d seen it from the Duwamish waterway, i’d seen it from Marginal Way,  and now i was homing in on it.   (i’m very visually inclined, landmarks are good)   closer and closer… and there it was… it is huge… city blocks worth…  lots of entrances too…   Arriving at the main building,  parked across the street from the non-ferrous metal loading dock and in I went.   A few minutes later my friend met me out front,  and had me pull around to the loading dock.

Lets just say I was still a bit in awe of the shear magnitude of the facility…  and how clean it was…  it was not a ‘scrapyard’ as my mind would have envisioned it…  neat piles of metals obviously segregated by type…

Anyhow, we loaded my batteries up on the cart.  took them over to the scale..

Tee hee!  look at that! there is my picture by the weight station, pulling one of these batteries!

102lbs!   i knew they were heavy, one was ~40 and one was ~60.   but i was still surprised to see the number on the sheet.    At this rate, a TON will be doable!!  We have another half dozen in the coves that are regularly dove, then marina’s and boat launch areas…   Maybe we have a discarded battery email hotline, for divers to report in when they see one laying around.

SO, easy as PIE!  I am a bit mortified that i did not start doing this years ago.  I am as guilty as everyone for just swimming over these batteries, dive after dive after dive…  Using them as navigational aids…   Why did i just leave them?  I can’t tell you.   I took video of them numerous times, trying to ‘show’ folks the pollution, but i wasn’t doing anything about it.

So what changed?   I can’t tell you because i honestly don’t know.   Something just went ‘click’ in my head.   I can’t stop the storm drains, i can film them, i can bring about awareness, but after while it becomes more academic.   But these batteries.. I can take them out.  I can do SOMETHING!  The feeling that accompanies doing something physical, something tangible is a good one.

I realize that the videos I shoot are helpful and they have been used by government agencies and environmental groups across the country to help show what is happening and help educate, but there is something about ‘hands on’ that can’t be beat.

Intellectually i know that 2 batteries or 40 batteries or even 100 is hardly going to make a dent in the bigger picture, but its something.   It gets us out doing though instead of just waiting for someone else to ‘fix’ it.

It’s like we say in Surgery if the doctor is wondering if he should put in a drain or do something more in a patients surgery…

If you think it, DO IT!

So i challenge all of you…

See that trash on the street, on the beach,  in the parks…   PICK IT UP!  you thought it didn’t you…   Sooner or later it will end up in the waterways…   Break the chain, take it out of the never ending flood of garbage making its way to the water!

If you are a diver and you see a battery or an old tarp or a plastic bag or starbucks cup or tennis balls, other garbage, BRING IT UP!

One of my dive buddies put it nicely… its  like a cat in a cardboard box..  the cat totally digs the cardboard box, loves it… but the cat doesn’t need it.  if you take it away, the cat will be just fine…   These animals will be just fine without their human made makeshift homes…   If you feel very strongly about it then we should rally and borrow the reef-ball molds and make some ‘real’ habitat for the critters…

its up to us… we are quite simply the last line of defense.

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