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  • Ed Ehlers

A Drop in the Bucket


Single drop of water
Photo by César Couto on Unsplash

“I admire what you’re doing but it’s just a drop in the bucket. Why bother?”


We have been asked this question on a few occasions and, admittedly, I have asked myself the same. We have recovered over 15,000 lbs. of resources in 11 months. That sounds like a lot but when compared to the amount of resources that could be recovered, well, it is a drop in the bucket.


According to Statista, a leading provider of market and consumer data, “It is estimated that almost two trillion pieces of plastic are in the North Pacific Ocean.” [1]


The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates the “total MSW (municipal solid waste) generation in 2018 was approximately 292.4 million tons”. [2]


Millions of tons? Trillions of pieces? These numbers seem insurmountable when compared to our few thousand pounds. It could make one think, “why bother?”


Well, the US Environmental Protection Agency advises that one drop of chlorine bleach will purify a half liter of water. [3] In certain situations that could mean the difference between life and death. [4] That is a pretty beneficial drop.


Not only can a single drop possibly save a life, but a single drop can also take a life. “Botulinum toxin, is basically the most lethal poison known to man.” A 110-pound human being only would have to take 1 drop (50 nanograms) of this protein to die. [5] That is one potent drop.

...a million microscopic organisms are living their lives in every single drop...
single drop of seawater magnified 25 times
Photo by David Littschwager on thisiscolossal.com

Incredibly, about a million microscopic organisms are living their lives in every single drop of sunlit ocean water. [6] That is an extremely bountiful drop.


Even if the resources we have recovered are just a drop in the bucket, this metaphor is the wrong way to look at it.




The Resource Recovery Project really is a seed.

The Resource Recovery Project really is a seed. Seeds are small but can grow into massive, long living trees. The largest tree in the world grew from a seed no bigger than an oat flake which is no bigger than a drop. General Sherman, a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park, stands 275 feet tall, has a 102-foot circumference, and weighs an amazing 2.7 million lbs. The Muir Snag, in Converse Basin, California, is the oldest giant sequoia on record, living more than 3,500 years. [7] Pretty amazing what can grow from a drop-sized seed.



the largest tree in the world, giant sequoia, General Sherman
Photo on http://cmq.esalq.usp.br/Philodendros

This seed that we are planting can grow into a movement that is so much bigger than the amount of resources that we collect.


What is that seed you may ask? “That’s not trash, it’s a resource!”


Look for a future blog which will nurture our “seed."


If you want to help scatter seeds, please contact us at ed@recoveringresources.com


“That’s not trash, it’s a resource!”

The Resource Recovery Project is pioneering true, single-stream, curbside resource recovery. We challenge the idea that recycling is not easy, cheap, efficient, or effective - it can be! We collect almost all resources (except liquids, organics & food, and medical waste) as long as they are clean & dry. We find the highest and best use for collected resources - reuse, repurpose, rehome, and recycle.


If you are in the greater Clifton, VA area, we invite you to make the most of your recycling efforts and join The Resource Recovery Project (RRP).



[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/1165951/plastic-volume-in-major-marine-areas-worldwide/

[2] https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/guide-facts-and-figures-report-about

[3] https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/emergency-disinfection-drinking-water

[4] https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/2011/tn9_how_much_water_en.pdf

[5] https://chemistryhall.com/most-dangerous-chemicals/#Botulinum_toxin

[6] https://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/a-drop-in-the-ocean-is-teeming-with-life/

[7] https://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/largest-trees-in-world.htm

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