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Talking Trash

Recycling seems to be one of those activities that I have a tendency to want to “start tomorrow.” Although sorting newspapers, cans and bottles into bins seems like a simple task, it cuts into my lackadaisical Saturday afternoons. It’s kind of like putting off a term paper until the night before or beginning an exercise routine—there’s just no initiative taken. I have discovered, however, that recycling cannot be compared to good grades and getting into shape—it’s actually a much weightier issue.

Avid tree-hugger or not, everyone appreciates beautiful surroundings. When it comes to helping maintain that pleasing environment though, many shrug off responsibility. As noted, I have (shamefully) been one of those task-shifters. I’ll claim ignorance as my excuse for not being as “earth-friendly” as I should be. As of today, cluelessness is no longer justifiable. My environmental attitude has changed. With my newfound appreciation for nature, I aim to share my revelations—to provide insight for those who are still hiding behind styrofoam plates and plastic forks.

What’s it to you?

In order to jumpstart motivation, light must be shed on the matter at hand. I have found “scare tactics” to be the best kick-in-the-butt approach to recycling. It is my intention to alarm you. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Facts:

* Pulp mills in the United States consume more than 12,000 square miles of forest each year; almost half of all trees cut now end up as paper, and the percentage is increasing.

* The average person in the United States throws away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet.

* When you recycle one glass bottle, you save the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

* The energy saved from recycling one aluminum can will run your TV for three hours.

* Only 27 percent of the newspapers produced in America are recycled.

* The EPA estimates that 75 percent of what Americans throw in the trash could actually be recycled. Currently, only 25 percent is.

(Facts compiled from www.earth911.org and www.freecycle.org)

“Drive” Yourself

I love garage sales. The whole atmosphere is unconventional, bizarre and (in my opinion) spectacular! It is the only place where strangers become business partners and “junk” becomes a priceless treasure that we just can’t live without. Even better, a garage sale is a great way to help the environment. Recycling our old clothes, jewelry, and household items helps reduce waste by reusing. Other related ideas could include a food, toy or clothing drive. Collect specific items from friends, relatives and co-workers and drop them off at a local Salvation Army.

That’s complete rubbish

Admit it. Diet coke cans, crumpled post-its and burned out light bulbs overflow the trash bin in your kitchen. It’s OK; no “Recycle Police” is going to be banging on your door with green containers and grimacing stares. Nevertheless, you can find useful ways to recycle some of your garbage and, by doing so, eliminate the trips to the trashcans outside. There are literally hundreds of unique ideas for salvaging things that usually get tossed. One (frequently noted) item is a plastic bag. After grocery shopping, re-use the bags given to tote food in. Line your trashcans, protect packages by using them as an alternative to bubble wrap, wrap a sandwich for lunch, etc.

(For a more extensive list of propositions for recycling, check out this site committed to helping people “reduce rubbish”.)

Sharp Shopper

Toilet paper … check. Paper towels … check. Hand soap … check. Rattling off a shopping list can be quick, easy and—dare I mention—environmentally friendly? Shopping with savvy intellect about recycling can provide beneficial results. There are plenty of goods that are “green” throughout their production. In fact, one company, Green Seal, has made its goal to advocate products that are manufactured by recycling. Through Green Seal’s careful evaluations, customers are able to feel intrinsically satisfied with their purchases.

See Also

A compilation of insightful links can be found below for those seeking a more in-depth investigation of this rewarding endeavor. Now, I have to address the rather embarrassing number of cardboard pizza boxes strewn across my kitchen counter …

www.freecycle.org

Join a local environmental group or create your own.

www.recycle.net/

An expert recycler’s paradise: it’s like eBay, for nature lovers.

www.recycleworks.org

Provides a useful search tool for how to recycle specific items.

www.epa.gov

Environmental Protection Agency- the mother ship of recycling ideas.

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