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Recycling 101

Oct 6th 2010 at 11:58 AM

Reduce, Reuse, And Recycle. We hear and see those words everywhere lately. Why is recycling so important? Recycling prohibits materials from being wasted by reprocessing them into new products. The average American produces 4.5 pounds of trash each day. Our landfills are overloaded; currently it takes an area the size of Ohio to dump all of our waste each year. If everyone in this country would just separate the paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum items from their trash and recycled them, we could reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills by 75%.  Recycling is the most significant task we can integrate into our daily routines.

  Alright, we've established how important recycling is to our planet. Where do we go from here? The first thing is to get in contact with your local recycling center. They can supply you with information on what kinds of materials are accepted in your area. Not all materials are recycled in all areas. Some municipals offer curb side service, while in other areas you will have to transport the recyclables yourself.

  Next, you will need to acquire some recycling bins. You don't absolutely have to have fancy recycling bins, any washable plastic container or trash can will do. Cardboard boxes work great and they are recyclable as well. Label bins with accepted items and special instructions to insure all contents will be properly recycled. The number of bins needed will be determined by the number of different materials to be collected.

 Now you need to decide exactly what materials you want to start recycling. It’s probably best to start with the top four: paper, plastic, glass, and aluminum.

  Let’s start with paper, which almost all types can be recycled. The highest grade of recyclable paper is white office paper. To be included in this category the paper has to be clean white sheets usually from printers and copiers. Other sub-categories of paper include: newspaper, phonebooks, corrugated cardboard and mixed paper. Mixed paper is all types of paper not previously covered including: magazines, packaging, contaminated white paper, and even envelopes with plastic windows.

  Plastic comes in many different forms and is made largely from synthetic material, which is composed mostly of petroleum. With the proper knowledge a large number of plastics can be recycled. Knowing what types of plastics to collect is somewhat confusing. Plastics are marked with a variety of codes and the ones that are collected depend on your local recycling center. Even though it is more difficult, please don't give up on plastic.

  Everyday more than 12 million glass bottles and jars are recycled in America. Most soda bottles, food containers, beer, wine, and liquor bottles, and juice containers can be recycled. Throw out any mixed color and broken glass, as well as ceramics, it can contaminate the recycling process. Make sure all collected glass is rinsed clean.

  Aluminum cans are the premier example of a recyclable waste. Recycling aluminum requires less than 5% of the energy originally used to make it. Make sure the cans you are collecting are aluminum, most aluminum is clearly marked. Smashing the cans is not required but does save space. By recycling just one aluminum can, we save enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning about three and a half hours.

  Reducing consumption, Reusing what can't be reduced, and RECYCLING what can't be reused may go against the norms of a consumer based society, but it can fit right in with the life of an individual seeking to achieve green living. For more information on environmental issues and alternative solutions visit


About the AuthorGreenPlanetz provides environmental information on relevant issues and alternative solutions. We also provide organic cotton clothing and reusable tote bags. 

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