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The Recycling Process
The Recycling Process—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
One day not so long ago I was walking down the street headed for a high school football game. As I walked I noticed several plastic bottles carelessly thrown into the ditch. Along with the bottles there were numerous pop cans and a couple pieces of cardboard. I’m not an environmentalist by any means but I started to get very upset about the situation. I made a mental note of the location and continued on to the football game. It was a junior varsity game against our rival town and our Dawgs were looking good this year.
The game was exciting but my mind kept returning to the heap of recyclables tossed aside and forgotten about. During half time I vowed that I would go collect the trash and turn it in to the recycle center in town. It was the responsible thing to do. Being a father I also figured this would make an excellent opportunity to teach my children about waste management.
The game ended with the Dawgs up by 14 points, the crowd went wild, and I being excited about our victory still took my trash—a plastic bottle—to the recycle bin near the exit. Tomorrow I would take my girls out to help me pick up the refuse. Without further prodding or urging I walked home. Again I passed the trash, paused to reflect on the degradation of society, and then continued home.
Saving The World
The next day I woke up at 8 A.M. I woke up my girls and fed them (and myself) some oatmeal. We grabbed four yard sized garbage bags, just in case. We also grabbed a set of gloves for each of us, not the wimpy garden type gloves but the hefty leather ones. I threw in three bright orange road guard vests for safety and loaded up into the truck. On the way to the site my daughters asked me what we were doing and I told them I would explain once we get there. The drive took five minutes.
We arrived at five after nine on a Saturday morning. I left the truck running and turned on the hazard lights so drivers would know someone was out of their vehicle. I lined the girls up oldest to youngest and started my speech.
“Today we have an opportunity to fix a problem for the city.”
In unison they asked, “What daddy? What are we doing and how are we helping the city?”
“Well, sweetheart if you look behind you, you’ll see the roadside littered with recyclables. We are to pick them up and turn them in.”
My youngest said, “Recycling saves the World.”
“Yes. In a small way it does save the World. And if you recycle you can save the World.”
My oldest, “Why do people litter like this, are they stupid or something?”
“Well, kind of. They’re not really stupid in the most literal sense of the word but they are lazy and probably just don’t realize what they’re doing.”
Both of them agreed, “We can help.”
So off the three of us went, picking up bottles and cans in separate bags for about a mile worth of the street, which thankfully wasn’t very busy. By the time we finished picking up the garbage we had a full bag of bottles and about a half bag of cans. One bag only contained three pieces of cardboard.
Proud of their accomplishments the girls raced back to the truck. “Careful of traffic,” I yelled to them. By the time I was halfway there the girls had been sitting by the truck when a cop pulled in behind my truck. I walked faster.
When I got there the cop was asking my daughters, “What are you doing out here?”
My oldest spoke for both of them, “We’re picking up trash on the side of the road here. It’s actually recyclables.”
I arrived in time to hear what she was saying and waited for her to finish. Once she was done talking to the cop I said, “How you doin’ officer,” more as a statement than a question. I didn’t really care, just wanted him to leave.
“It’s nice to see citizens take action in regards to this kind of thing.”
“Take care.” He said and left
After the cop had left my youngest asked, “Are we in trouble daddy?”
“No. He just wanted to know why we were here, in case we had a problem or something. Let’s go.”
We got back in the truck and drove straight over to the recycle center. On the way my girls were full of questions. One that was most impressive to me was from my oldest who asked, “What is the recycling process?”
The recycling process, I explained is what you can do as a consumer to reduce your waste. By reducing your waste of things you take pollution down. Reduce is the first and most important part of the recycling process. It is here that we start to make a difference in the world by reducing the amount of garbage we produce.
When you have reduced your waste you begin to think of ways to recycle. Obvious ways to reduce your garbage output is to set up a manageable recycling program at the house. Do you throw plastic bottles in the trash? What about aluminum cans, or steel cans? By recycling those items you have reduced your trash output by 66.4% give or take a percent.
The next stage in the process is to reuse what is left, I continued. Do you need a brand new bottle of water every time you want some water? The answer is undoubtedly no. Get a Brita water filter that can be installed on the faucet or in the pipe lines. This way you can just grab a glass and drink some water. That’s great for at home but what about car trips? Reuse that bottle you had the night before. Rinse out the bottle and refill it with clean filtered water and put it in the fridge at night. In the morning now you have water in a bottle. I recommend only using a certain bottle for three or four refill days, much more than that and you risk water bottle contamination. Eventually the chemicals in the bottles will start to deteriorate, especially if the bottle of water heats up.
Finally, I continued, when you have reached a point where you can no longer, or don’t want to continue using an item, you then recycle it. You turn it in and they melt it down or whatever and make a new can or bottle, or what have you. They will even pay you some standard prices for the recyclable.
By the time I got finished explaining the recycling process we had arrived at the recycle center. I let each girl take one bag to the clerk. He weighed them, processed them, and paid me the earnings. It wasn’t much but I let on that it was a fortune and treated my girls to ice cream for helping me.