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Get Involved: Helping the Environment by Recycling

Ethan Malone

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We can all make a difference in the quality of life today and for those generations as yet to come. If you're looking for a way to make a positive impact on the earth, it's a good idea to start out by taking steps to help the environment by recycling. When it comes to the health of the planet, as with the health of our children, it all starts at home.

A Healthy Planet Starts at Home

The side-effects of climate change, from monster storms (e.g., Super Storm Sandy, to the Fukushima tsunami), have brought the concept of global warming, and the connection between that and our way of life, onto center stage. While scientists debate how long we have before efforts to reverse the widespread damaging consequences of our current global warming trend, there is wide consensus that each of us – in the industrial world - can do something now and that we must, if we care about the quality of life future generations will experience. As a Native American proverb goes, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Curbside Recycling

Many cities now offer curbside recycling receptacles, but the trick is to get into the habit of using them, this includes bringing objects that are recyclable home that you’ve used on the road. Objects can have an “afterlife” through recycling. For example, house siding, lawn furniture, small appliances, and pie pans, are made from recycled aluminum. Insulation for sleeping bags and ski jackets, flower pots, and plastic lumber can be produced from recycled plastic. Many objects commonly found in landfills are 100% recyclable and reusable; by doing our part, local residents can decrease the impact of landfills in their communities and across the globe.

In addition, while composting is, for some, an acquired taste, it is one worth pursuing. Soil erosion is a pernicious reality, as global food demand continues to escalate, attaining unprecedented levels. Through composting what would otherwise be shipped to landfill, residents can help protect the soil quality of their agricultural belts, which are essential to the long-term sustainability of current and future populations.

If your city or municipality does not offer curbside recycling and composting services, there are a host of licensed and insured recycling haulers that are certified “green businesses” who will take your recyclables to verified recyclers or charities and even produce documentation for your tax records.

Recycling Centers

For those without a regular curbside recycling program, recycling centers offer a great alternative to dumping your recyclables. Going online individuals and businesses can find the nearest centers and, if desired, junk haulers that partner with them to divert trash from landfill. While some might charge a nominal fee, as in the case of some e-waste, many will actually pay you, as they are resellers who profit from donations made. Individuals can buddy up with others in their community to host a community recycling day, in which everyone can drop things at a central place (e.g., a local community center or church) and be picked up by a contracted hauler for a fraction of the cost of doing so alone.

Sources:

  1. Mary Gormandy White, “Ways to Help The Environment by Recycling,” Love To Know, http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/Help_the_Environment_by_Recycling.
  2. David Singer, “Wasted in America,” Fast Haul, http://www.fasthaul.com/ecoblog/2013/10/31/wasted-in-america-infographic/.

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