Is Recycling Dying? If So, Sustainability Is the Answer

Is Recycling Dying? If So, Sustainability Is the Answer


For decades, recycling was seen as the way to keep the earth from being choked with landfills. The message has finally sunk in. After many years of public policy efforts, Americans are now recycling en masse. Bins for soda cans and water bottles can be found in every business building or school. But now the system of recycling is under attack like never before.

China has long taken most of America's trash. Literal tons were sent over by ship to be made into new goods and plastic products. Low-wage workers sorted out recyclables from waste. However, in 2018, China restricted the imports of mixed paper and most plastics. Now U.S.-based waste management companies are letting towns know that there is not a market for their recycling. Most consumers are now faced with a choice. They can pay a significantly higher fee to get rid of waste, or they can throw it away, ending up right back in a landfill.

Due to economic considerations, most are choosing the latter. Here's what the Atlantic reports on the situation:

“We are doing our best to be environmentally responsible, but we can’t afford it,” said Judie Milner, the city manager of Franklin, New Hampshire. Since 2010, Franklin has offered curbside recycling and encouraged residents to put paper, metal, and plastic in their green bins. When the program launched, Franklin could break even on recycling by selling it for $6 a ton. Now, Milner told me, the transfer station is charging the town $125 a ton to recycle, or $68 a ton to incinerate.

One-fifth of Franklin’s residents live below the poverty line, and the city government didn’t want to ask them to pay more to recycle, so all those carefully sorted bottles and cans are being burned. Milner hates knowing that Franklin is releasing toxins into the environment, but there’s not much she can do. “Plastic is just not one of the things we have a market for,” she said.

Many other towns are suspending their recycling programs after seeing massive hikes in fees. They are now throwing plastic bottles into the trash. This comes at a time when America is producing more than over. In 2015 alone, it generated nearly 270 million tons of waste, 60 percent more than 1985. 

The environmental effects can be deadly. Organic waste in a landfill emits methane. Burning it produces carbon emissions.

So what can we do? The easiest answer is to not create waste in the first place. And that can be accomplished by applying sustainability to the Three Fs: Forks, Food, and Freezers.


One of the worst sources of plastic clogging up Earth's oceans is single-use plastic wear (Americans throw away 322 on average a year). Billions of plastic knives, spoons, and forks are thrown away each year for no good reason because durable cutlery exists in every house and restaurant on earth. But they aren't affordable or convenient.

Plastic utensils are tremendously wasteful, but we often don't have a choice. They're usually the only option at parties, events or salad bars. Reusable utensils exist, but they are large and impractical to carry around with you.

But what if there was a full-size, reusable cutlery set that was effortless to carry? What if it was so thin that it could even fit into your wallet? What if there was eco-friendly dinnerwear that combined the convenience of single-use cutlery with the sustainability of traditional flatware?

Now there is. GoSun, which has made incredible solar cookers and solar coolers for years, is pleased to announce GoSun Flatware, a set of reusable utensils that fit in your wallet, purse, or pocket. They are durable, clean, and ultra-portable. 

This eco-friendly dinnerware replaces single-use plastic utensils. It's the only reusable utensil set that can actually fit into your wallet, so you don't need to remember to bring it with you. With Flatware, you'll never have to reach for the single-use plastic again.

Protecting you from unwanted grease, these self-contained utensils are able to travel with you anywhere.  Flatware is great for eating on-the-go: cafe, salad bar, campsite, event, cafeteria, carryout, and the list goes on.

Flatware is simple to use - just pop it out of its case, slide the utensil out and lock it in place. When you're finished eating, simply clean them off and stow away.

    Flatware is made from 301 Stainless Steel - the same material that is used on today's rocket ship craft. It is lightweight, beautiful and virtually indestructible. 



    A solar oven is the only food preparation device able to turn the energy of sunlight into heat. Traditional stoves, in contrast, capture heat by using hydrocarbons, the fossilized remains of carbohydrates.

    The trouble with this source is that it is typically created by a coal-fired and more recently a natural gas-fired power plant, which each have their ecological impacts (CO2 with coal and water impacts with natural gas due to fracking). Electrical heat is generated by sending large amounts of wattage through small wires which in turn, creates resistance, and thus heat. This is an extremely energy-intensive process, requiring, hundreds if not thousands of watts to generate functional cooking temperatures as found in our conventional stoves, toasters or toaster ovens.

     A solar system on the front face of an Earthship, Taos, New Mexico, USA – B. Trauth

    A solar system on the front face of an Earthship, Taos, New Mexico, USA – B. Trauth

    Due to this inefficiency, it is advised to use propane or wood heat when going off the grid. Fortunately, with the efficient solar-powered Hybrid Cooking System in the new GoSun Grill, it requires a small amount of solar-generated electricity to achieve the same results. This system is able to use less energy due to the efficiency of the Grill’s cooking chamber to achieve the same results.

    So how does the GoSun solar stove stack up?

    The GoSun solar stove lays out many future foundations for a green tech future of renewable energy cooking in both the developed and the developing world. It has the capability to address many of the shortcomings of these varied types of sustainable cooking.

    • A Solar Stove is Globally Accessible: No matter where in the world you may be, GoSun requires no infrastructure to cook your food. There’s no need for gas lines, electrical lines or even forests. It is functional freedom to cook your food in any scenario. As long as you have daylight (which we are working on changing), you are free to cook your food.
    • A Solar Stove Provides Free Time: Most of us don’t realize how important free time is until we don’t have it. Modern advances freed us up, especially women, from performing the daily time consuming tasks, whether it was harvesting food, cooking and clean up or laundry. These technologies freed us up, especially women to focus on more important tasks like education, building more time freeing solutions and potentially relaxation. These are fundamental benefits and important qualities of the cooking methods beyond wood. They are fundamental for moving a culture from 'developing' into 'developed' status
    • A Solar Stove Yields Net Yield Energy Production: The GoSun solar stove is unique in that it is designed to generate its own energy. It is a rare “Net Yield” product similar to solar panels or wind turbines. However, unlike these energy sources, it requires no transfer of energy to turn its power into something that we can use. It is ready for use once you put your food into it and place it in the sun. This would take hundreds if not thousands of watts of electricity in a conventional oven, toaster oven or toaster to achieve the same temperatures the GoSun solar stove achieves by simply sitting in the sun. To power those types of appliances with solar or wind generated electricity it would take a fairly large system to power them.
    • Life Cycle Analysis of a Solar Stove: Life Cycle Analysis is a tool used by product designers to understand the ecological impacts of a product. This starts from the mining and continues on to the manufacturing, use and ultimately disposal. The GoSun solar stove has a relatively light Life Cycle Analysis, given that most of the energy that goes into the product is in the manufacturing of it, which is still relatively light. There is almost no energy required for its operation. It can easily be repaired, and can then be recycled at the end of its life. Its total EROEI is at least 6-7.5:1, which is an exceptionally high and reliable source of energy to address our cooking needs in all scenarios.

    The GoSun solar stove truly does revolutionize cooking into a post-fossil fuel 21st century. It relieves stress on ecosystems, allowing them to regenerate and sequester more carbon. It also empowers us to have a lower overall embodied energy in the infrastructure to achieve a relatively simple goal, that of cooking. It also frees us up to have more time to do other important tasks for the day, which will allow us to build a more educated human family that can build our sustainable future.


    Recycling freezers is a dangerous proposition due to their dangerous chemicals. Freezers almost always contain fluorinated hydrocarbons. People refer to these chemicals as Freon, a leading brand name.

    It is a dangerous substance. This odorless and tasteless gas causes severe symptoms if a person inhales too much at once.

    That's why we recommend solar-powered fridges, especially the GoSun Chill.

    A solar fridge has many advantages over its conventional counterpart. Unlike conventional refrigerators, which run on electric that is likely generated by burning fossil fuels, a solar fridge runs on energy provided directly by the sun.

    A solar fridge is also the best sort of cooler for off-the-grid locations where AC power is not available and no conventional fridges dare to tread. They can keep food preserved without the need for utility-provided power, a major advantage in undeveloped areas where electricity availability is intermittent and unreliable. 

    A portable lithium battery pack powers the GoSun Chill. The large 150 watt-hour solar power pack can also power laptops, cell phones, and many other portable accessories, making it the perfect outdoor product to be prepared for a power outage or emergency.




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