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Take the Time to Recycle

Updated on November 18, 2014

Recycling is Important

People are always telling me I am fanatical about recycling. I even recycle every little piece of plastic stuff comes wrapped in (along with all my other plastic bags at grocery stores; same type of plastic) and every plastic drink bottle, fruit cup, shower gel/shampoo bottle, yogurt container, everything! If every one of the millions of households did the same, we would have a lot less trash, lesson air and water pollution, have a cleaner planet in general, kill a lot less animals and use a lot less energy!

Did you know that in 2010, less than 22% of the aluminum cans that were produced were recycled? Even so, if the amount of cans recycled were stacked on top of each other, they would be over 1,450 times as tall as the empire state building! Just imagine how many were not recycled and are in landfills. That is only one type of beverage container and it is actually the most widely recycled type. Imagine how many plastic bottles are lying around.


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Recycling is Easy

Recycling is simple and anyone can do it. It only requires a conscience effort. One must make the decision to rinse out and separate containers. Then, just store them until they can either be picked up or taken off. Depending where you live, recycling pick-up service may be available at no extra cost. If this is not the case for you, waste management services often offer a pick-up service at a low cost in addition to your regular trash service bill. If you do not want the extra expense or cannot afford it, there are drop-off sites where you may take your items. Personally, this is the option I choose. I make it convenient by swinging by the drop-off site when I am already out running errands and would already be close by. This way, I avoid additional hassle and my recycling is done at my convenience.

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Many Items Are Recyclable

Paper comprises about 1/3 of our waste stream. Recycling paper conserves resources, saves energy and prevents clogging of landfills. Old corrugated cardboard (OCC) is about 13.8 percent of our municipal waste stream and most of it is from non-residential use. If you are going to drop off your recycled items after work, why not take some of that cardboard with you?

Recycled glass uses 50% less energy, creates 20% less air pollution and results in 50% less water pollution. All colors and types of glass can be recycled! Aluminum cans can be recycled many times over and recycling cans uses approximately 95% less energy than producing new ones. Steel cans can also be recycled many times over. Additionally, some steel auto parts and appliances can be recycled.

PET Plastic bottles, like the ones used for water and soda, are one of the easiest items to recycle, yet about 80% of those used end up in a landfill. Recycling these bottles is not only easy, but uses about 2/3 less energy than producing new ones. HDPE or high-density polyethylene plastic bottles are commonly the type used for detergents, cleaners and bleach. Plastic bottles are identified by a logo or number on the bottom of the container. Types 1 and 2 are commonly recycled everywhere. Types 3-7 are recycled in certain areas. Double check the type of plastic you have before recycling, but if you check with your local environmental agency, they should be able to direct you to a location to meet all of your recycling needs.

It is also important to check if your items are mixed with another type of material. If so, you can try to remove the material. An example would be a plastic hanger with a metal hook. The metal would have to be removed in order to be recycled. In addition, recycled items must be clean in order to prevent cross-contamination.


Recycling Aluminum Cans

Other Methods of Reduce and Re-Use

Composting

Composting is a method of reusing or recycling decomposed organic material to fertilize or rebuild soil. Over time through nature and through farming, soil becomes stripped of vitamins and minerals. To yield plants or crops, it must be replenished. Some soil quality is poorer than others to start with. For example, I live in coastal North Carolina, less than 1/2 mile to the ocean. When we built our home, the yard was nothing more than a sand pit. We like to garden, but our soil was making it impossible. We began fertilizing the yard and have been able to yield our produce more effectively. We have to keep our lawn fertilized regularly and one method I use is composting. It costs less money to make natural fertilizer and reduces the amount of waste in the landfill. Everything you send to the landfill, regardless of its ability to biodegrade, uses energy. More dump trucks are needed to carry more waste. It costs more to have to pay more workers. The machinery used in waste management use more energy. The list goes on.

Re-Using

Everyone has heard of yard sales. What better way to rid your home of unwanted items, make a little money and also know that you helped reduce waste and conserve energy? It makes sense to buy some items used anyway. Sometimes, we may want to try something new, like that treadmill you are so desperate to get. Often times, these purchases cost a fair amount of money and we don't use them much after the first few months. It takes energy to produce new goods, so if some can be reused, why not do it?

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Recycling Challenge

In summation, recycling benefits everything and everyone. Some methods of recycling help save us money. Recycling helps the environment by reducing pollution, reducing energy use and promotes an overall cleaner planet. Who benefits from our clean environment? We do, along with all other plants and animals. Challenge yourself to start recycling today. All you have to do is give it try. It can't hurt you, but when you don't recycle, you are hurting our planet, which ultimately affects you and your family, along with everyone else.

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