Remember learning about the 3 R’s way back when? Reduce, reuse, and recycle! Those three words are still just as important, if not more important, than they were years ago when we first started hearing them. Every day, the average American throws away 4.5 lbs of garbage. Add that up over the course of a week, a month, a year, and you have a ton of garbage. Believe it or not, residential waste makes up 55-65% of the municipal waste stream. Thankfully, this means that consumers and households can make a significant difference in reducing our everyday waste. What’s one of the easiest ways to combat all this trash? Create less of it. You can do this by consuming less, reusing more, and of course, recycling.
What does it mean to recycle, exactly? Recycling is the process of collecting materials that would otherwise be trash and turning them into new products that can be resold and used again. For example, all of the carpet in the Zoo’s Education Center was once plastic. That’s right! The carpet is made out of recycled plastic. The bridge that crosses over Swan Lake is also made out of recycled plastic. What items in your house are made, or can be made, out of recycled materials?
It’s getting easier and easier to recycle these days. Check out your local solid waste district to find out how and what specifically can be recycled in your county. In general, you can assume to recycle paper, aluminum, glass and plastic bottles/jugs #1-7. These items can go directly in your curbside recycling bin, or in any drop off location throughout the city, without having to be sorted. Many area schools collect paper or aluminum cans, and receive a certain amount of money for the amount of paper or cans they collect. Help support your city schools while being environmentally responsible at the same time!
Recycling is a win win situation for all involved. Check out some of the benefits of recycling –
- reduces the release of greenhouse gases
- saves energy because less energy is being used to manufacture new products
- protects trees and prevents destruction of natural habitats
- conserves natural resources such as wood, water and minerals
- curbs landfill growth by keeping 70 tons of waste a year from being deposited
- saves money because recycling programs cost less than waste disposal programs and you can receive money for turning in certain recyclable products
- creates jobs
Where Can I Recycle?
Visit your county’s solid waste management website to find out how and where to recycle in your county.
Hill, G. & O’Neill, M. (2008). Ready, Set, Green: Eight Weeks to Modern Eco-Living. New York: Villard Books.