You know that symbol. You've seen it thousand times on chocolate wrappings, plastic bags, beer cans and (yuck!) coca-cola bottles. I remember the time I was asking myself what it meant, and I even remember the time when it was nowhere to be seen (in communist Bulgaria at least). I'm not sure if this story happened the same way otherwhere, but here's the whole story.
Back then yoghurt was sold in glass jars, which you washed, dried and returned to the shop in exchange for full ones. Lemonade (Coca-cola, and the more popular then Pepsi were not very common. This doesn't mean that we haven't a "Generation P" :) was sold in heavy large bottles too. They were almost as heavy as the drink inside them and it was very hard for a kid to carry more than two. We had some nice canvas bags for carrying such heavy things, except the ones for potatoes, which were made from some polimere thread and looked more like nets. Some families also had a case of empty beer bottles, which on suitable occasions were exchanged for a case of FULL beer bottles. Obtaining a case without exchanging it for another was not that easy, so often neighbours would use the "treasurous" cases of those who had one.
Yes, it was like that for some time, but after that the wind of change blew, some walls were torn down, and slowly some new things emerged in the day-to-day life. Enter Pepsi and Coca-cola, a couple of the main characters of this story. They were still in their cool-looking glass outfit then, excited for entering a new scene and all that. Some old characters were changing their image though.
Yoghurt first. Before the change there was ... well yoghurt. After that was the yoghurt of that milk farm, the yoghurt of the other milk farm ... free market, you know. And some of the "new farms" were no longer packaging in glass. They used plastic - easy to carry, easy to throw - no washing and carrying back to the store - the housewife's dream!
Some time passed, and the new trends became normal practices. Coca-cola introduced the "innovative" plastic bottles, but for some time you could still return your empty glass bottles and buy others. But yoghurt glass jars were no more. Everybody bought it in plastic jars and didn't realise that besides yoghurt he was buying an _absolutely useless_ plastic jar, which he threw immediately.
Later, when tap water became almost undrinkable there appeared plastic bottles of mineral water. At the moment a 1.5L bottle costs 50 units in a store (important here is the ratio, not the absolute currency value), ~20 units if you buy a whole truck and 0.5 (!) units for cubic meter of water. This makes 0,00075 units per 1.5L - and all the other expences are for the plastic bottle, transportation and advertisement.
Yet, the transition from "swappable" glass to disposable plastic containers was not the worst. There was a "backwards" transition too: things which were sold in plastic were more and more packaged in glass. Mayonnaise for example - the price of the "plastic" one is *half* of the price of the "glass" one - of course, you pay for the glass container, which is TIMES more expensive than the other and after you eat the mayonnaise you THROW it out! And the plastic bag you carried (and paid for, albeit indirectly) it in from the supermarket. And the beer cans.
The "glasswards" trend also dominates the alcohol and parfume markets - they do it mainly to make forgeries harder, I think, but still they often sell you a fancy bottle with a fancy one-way valve, which makes the thing unusable afterwards. Of course here we can also see the "pay more for package" principle in action - danzka vodka comes in a metal bottle "and differs significantly from other vodkas in their normal glass bottles". In the price, sure.
So here's a translation for you: "Pleace recycle" = "Please buy our useless crap and please make sure you throw it away immediately afterwards"!
And what about one-use photo cameras? You know, those little boxes that
you buy, use and throw away, with lenses and objectives and shutter and
everything. What about disposable gsm? Am I wrong or
-already now- the new GSMs are not as sturdy and long lived as the old
ones? An "old" nokia 5110 beats hand s down all the more recent products,
doesn't it? Maybe that's the reason they want you to return the old models :-)
What comes next - cellulose cars? For the commercial bastards is no longer enough to sell you junky items which won't last long (I've seen 20+year-old stereos which still work like new!). Now they want to sell you junky items, which you should throw away almost immediately. And please, do it on the proper place for that - see the little green symbol?
P.S. Do an instructive test on the yogurth you yourself consume, for instance on Dannon ('true yoghurt' my ass!) - open the yoghurt and leave it for a day outside the fridge. It should become sour and uneatable. If not - forget about this brand - it is probably made of other bacteriae and/or full of conservants. Of course, the best yoghurt is home-made - make it from proven yoghurt with alive(!) (lacto)bacillus bulgaricus, only with full-fat milk. After hangover or just a bad day, try "ajran" - add and stir water to the yoghurt until it has drinkable density and add salt to taste. Cheers!