Ease Up on the Environment by Keeping Waste to a Minimum!
It’s hard to believe there was ever a time where glass bottles, food scraps and paper were simply tossed into the trash without much of a second thought. These days, recycling, composting and other eco-friendly habits have become mainstream. Americans are now recycling one-third of their garbage – that’s double what it was in 1990! Whether you’re already eco-conscious or have yet to get on the green bandwagon, here are some simple ways to lessen your impact on the environment.
Create A Recycling Bin
Simply place a recycling container next to your garbage can in your kitchen, or wherever it is convenient. Type up a list of items to be recycled and place it on the front of the container. Depending on space available, you can have recycling containers for specific items: Glass, Plastic, Cans, Paper, Cardboard.
Glass: Don’t worry if there’s a lime stuck in the bottle or a little bit of peanut butter stuck to the bottom of the jar. The recycling machines can tell the difference between gunk and recyclables.
Plastic bottle: Do not recycle bottle tops; they are made from a different plastic than recyclable plastic bottles.
Cans: Cans are the most commonly recycled items. Recycling aluminum and steel cans saves 95% of the energy required to manufacture aluminum from scratch and 74% of the energy needed to make steel. It’s so efficient these days that a can is regenerated and back on the shelf in as little as 60 days!
Cardboard: Do not recycle wet cardboard. It clogs sorting machines.
Donating Recyclable Items!
Cameras, cell phones, and MP3 players can be sent in for recycling through the US Post Office pilot program. The “Mail Back” program is being tested in 10 cities. Just grab a free envelope from one of 1,500 participating offices and mail in your old gadget or inkjet cartridge for free.
Companies such as Best Buy have programs to recycle electronics and appliances. Some computer companies (Dell and HP, for example) accept old machines for recycling. And printer cartridges can be returned to some retailers for credit or coupons. National Cristina Foundation is a “not-for-profit” company that accepts donated computers and other technology and then matches them to charities, schools and public agencies that are in need. Visit the EPA’s website for a list of all the e-cycling locations in the US and visit Earth 911 for more great e-cycling resources!
Recycle Cell Phones! www.Call2Recycle.com or www.RBRC.org/ will give locations for drop offs. Take used rechargeable batteries from items like cell phones and cordless power tools to The Home Depot for free recycling. Batteries, CFL light bulbs and other toxic materials such as paint and motor oil should be taken to your local recycling center for proper hazardous waste disposal.
Don’t throw away those exercise videos and various CDs. Mail old videotapes and CDs to Jim Williams, so that more than 40 disabled staffers at his ACT Recycling in Columbia, Missouri can recycle them. And don’t toss out those used Fed-Ex envelopes or broken smoke detectors because their manufacturers will take them back for recycling.
You can donate Autos, Trucks, Trailers, Boats, Jet-Skis, Motorcycles and RVs! Even if your vehicle doesn’t run, nonprofit organizations want it. Numerous “vehicle donation programs” will gladly accept most towable vehicles. Pickup is free. Some sell the vehicles directly to raise money; others contract with someone to run the donation program for a fee. Ask your favorite nonprofit organization whether it accepts vehicles. Those that do include Habitat for Humanity (877-277-4344), Wolf Haven International (360-264-4695, www.wolfhaven.org), Houston Audubon Society (713-932-1639, www.houstonaudubon.org) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (757-962-8277, www.peta.org).
To Recycle or not to Recycle?
Misidentifying recyclables is costly. In Phoenix, for instance, almost 25 percent of items mixed in with the recycling aren’t really recyclable. Removing the trash (which is rerouted to the local landfill) costs the city nearly $1 million every year. Some unacceptable junk, such as plastic grocery sacks and extension cords, can jam conveyor belts and cause equipment breakdowns. So educate yourself regarding what is recyclable and what is not. If you’re not absolutely sure that an item is recyclable, bypass the recycling bin and throw it in the trash instead.
It’s a Way of Life
Recycling and reuse businesses now employ about as many people as the auto industry, if not more, according to the “U.S. Recycling Economic Information Study” commissioned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. At least 1.1 million people now work in the industry. Without recycling, given current virgin raw material supplies, we could not print the daily newspaper, build a car, or ship a product in a cardboard box. Recycling is not some feel-good activity; it is one of the backbones of global economic development. Recovering cast-offs and putting them to good use are key to industrial growth and stability.