Recycling is the act of converting used items into new materials to prevent waste. So for example, when recycled, the plastic milk container you use can be remade into an entirely new plastic product for someone else. When we participate, we keep waste out of landfills, preserve materials, and keep our planet happy, healthy, and clean. Participation is easy, fairly effortless, and a fantastic way to go green.
The Three R's
Recycling is the third act in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra. The three R's sum up the goals of the green movement quite well. When you:
- Reduce the amount of materials you consume,
- Reuse items that you ordinarily throw away, and
- Recycle packaging and other materials,
you make the world a little bit greener for future generations.
Recycling is an essential part to going green. The act itself is more than making the extra effort to drop your plastic bottles and soda cans into designated recycling bins; recycling is a mindset! It's time to change your way of thinking about automatically tossing everything into the garbage.
Plastics & the Little Triangle
Typically, you will find a tiny triangle on the bottom of plastic recyclables. The triangle will often encompass a numerical identifier, or as we like to call it, the recycle number, ranging from 1 to 7. This number identifies the material type, but more importantly, it signifies it is a recyclable plastic. Make it a point to never toss something into the garbage that could just as easily be placed into a recycle bin--even if it means taking a few extra steps. We could all use a few extra steps here and there, right?
Other recyclables sometimes have two little arrows circling into one another to signify its recyclability, if you will. Cardboard and such also have a variation of the triangle/arrow combination to remind us to recycle it.
Save the earth, one bottle at a time.
The History Behind the Little Triangle and the Recycle Number
In 1988, the Society of the Plastics Industries, Inc. introduced a resin identification coding system (the recycle number on the bottom of plastic goods). The use of the system is strictly voluntary, but was designed to help consumers identify which plastics could be collected locally for recycling.
Get Started Recycling
There are a ton of common materials you use each day that are recyclable. The following list are things that should always, always, always be recycled:
- tin cans (food cans made of steel or tin, aerosol cans)aluminum cans
- glass (clear, green, or amber)
- plastic (all kinds: bottles, packaging inserts, milk jugs, laundry detergent bottles, yogurt containers, margarine containers, whipped topping tubs, plastic cups, plastic jars, cottage cheese containers, Tupperware containers, anything with a recycle number on the bottom, grocery bags)
- aseptic boxes (milk and orange juice containers, juice boxes (not foil juice bags)
- cardboard and chipboard (dry food boxes (cereal, cake mix, shoe boxes))
- magazines and telephone books
- paper (computer paper, writing paper, junk mail, inserts in mail, brown paper grocery bags, file folders (remember to remove your personally identifiable information from it first). Most curbside recycling services do not collect shredded paper. Check with your local recycling center to find out if they accept shredded paper)
If you have any questions about other specific items, talk to your local recycling center or government agency that handles the recycling program nearest you.
Quick Facts about Common Recyclables
Always recycle aluminum. Why? Recycling aluminum means that new ore isn't needed to create new aluminum. Four tons of ore are needed to create 1 ton of aluminum. Recycling aluminum takes 95% less energy than creating new aluminum. The energy needed to produce one new aluminum can could produce 20 recycled ones!
Recycle your plastics. It takes 70% less energy to recycle plastic to create new materials than it is to create brand new plastic. This saves the planet's valuable, non-renewable resources like oil and natural gas in the manufacturing process.
Glass. Recycling glass is 33% more energy efficient than creating new glass.
Methods of Recycling
There are four primary methods to get your recycled goods to the recycling plant or materials recovery facility (MRF, catchy, isn't it?). Curbside, drop-off centers, buy-back centers, and deposit or refund programs are the primary vehicles to get those items recycled.
Once the recyclables are collected and transported to the MRF, they are cleaned, separated, and remade into a new product or material. A lot of products these days are made from total or partially recycled material, which means even less materials that are used in manufacturing.
Don't “Just Throw It Away”
When you throw something away, where does it really go? Away isn't never-never-land. Away is actually located somewhere on this planet. The expression “it's a small world after all” originated from somewhere. It is indeed a small world. The more we fill it up with garbage, the less natural space we have to enjoy.
To some, throwing something away is nothing more than getting it out of their home. After they dispose of waste or junk, they never think about it again. In all honesty though, away could be someones back yard, neighborhood, or river. We're definitely not wanting people to sit and ponder their recently trashed goodies for hours on end, but at the same time, pause for a moment to think about what you” just throw away”?
We're not trying to get all preachy here, but think about it. We generate literally millions and millions of pounds of trash per day. All of that trash is now stinkily settling somewhere in a landfill. The materials that are not burned or recovered will be buried forever. Forever, meaning always, unending, final resting place.
Sparing you the over-dramatics of the situation, it is important to realize that throwing something away should not necessarily be your first impulse. Think about the following the next time you chuck something into the garbage:
- Is anything in this pile/bag/batch:
- Recyclable? If so, pull it out and recycle it.
- Reusable? If so, reuse it.
- Donation worthy? If so, give it away and get a tax deduction. (Don't give away something that is not in usable condition)
The few nanoseconds you save by chucking something into the garbage really aren't worth the space, over the planet's entire lifetime, that your garbage takes up in a landfill somewhere.
Save the Earth, One Bottle at a Time
You may be thinking that is an overstatement, but who are we to block progress? People who act locally and think globally are the very people who make this planet a little bit healthier. When these like-minded efforts band together, a net effect of global health evolves.
When you think about it, each little can or bottle you make the effort to recycle, is one less dumped into a landfill. The less dumped into the landfills helps preserve and save the earth. It's as simple as that!
So where can you store all of your recyclables? Inquire about city or county recycling programs. If your city picks up your trash, they'll most likely have some sort of recycling program in place. Many local programs provide free recycling bins for resident use. This encourages everyone to recycle and makes it easy for them to do so.
If they don't have a program, write to your local representatives and suggest they start one.
In the mean time, acquire your own recycling bins. The Suncast Recycle Bin Kit is very popular. This set comes with three separate, stackable recycling bins and shipping is free! These recycling bins are ideal for those who want to conserve space for recyclables, those who live in apartments, and those who are looking for a great value.
The recycling bins mentioned above are great, but if you want top-of-the-line, cream-of-the-crop, spare-no-expense recycling bins check out Mode Premium Home Recycling Centers with Mechanical Compactor. If you haven't particularly enjoyed the act of recycling, boy are you in for a treat! The Mode Premium Home Recycling Centers with Mechanical Compactor is the elite of recycling bins. It mechanically compacts your recyclables to condense the amount of space used. This will cut down on the number of trips you have to run to the local recycling center to drop off your goods. There are three dividers to separate paper and bulk-mail, plastic, and aluminum and tin. This unit is the perfect way to keep your recyclables neatly organized and can store three times the amount of a typical recycling bin!
One of the neat-o highlights to an already great product, is that the “crush” is mechanically operated; no electricity needed. It has a patent-pending Eco-Track system that tracks the amount of materials you've recycled and how much you've recycled over the life of the unit. People have given these recycling bins great reviews, especially families who've struggled to get their kids interested in recycling. Apparently, acquiring this unit has sparked a strong desire in their children to recycle. The recycling bin is cute, compact, sleek, and kids are excited to recycle. Nothing could be better!
Whichever recycling bins you decide to use, ensure you're separating the types of recyclables and getting your collection out to the curb for weekly pickup (if available in your area). Your daily contribution to the recycling bins, believe it or not, is making a difference in our planet. So thank you!
Making an effort to throw less away is the right thing to do, no matter how green—or not so green--you consider yourself. We've been entrusted with a great responsibility to love our neighbor and care for the planet.
Make it a point each day to do something good for someone else. As icing on the cake, recycle something each day you'd ordinarily throw away. If you have to take something home to recycle it from work, make the extra effort. It's worth it!
One less bottle in the trash means one less bottle in the landfill. Thanks for your help keeping this planet as it was originally designed and intended--beautiful and unpolluted.
Thanks for recycling!
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