Nov. 8-15 was America Recycles Day and I have a question for all of you – how much do you recycle? In preparation for this article I conducted a highly scientific poll of my coworkers, meaning I walked around with a clipboard and pencil and asked, “Do you recycle at home?
I jotted down a mark in the appropriate column of yes or no, but then I had to add a “sort of” column. I found that only six of 13 diligently recycle all the items that are accepted at our local recycling locations. Two do not recycle at all and the rest recycle some items such as aluminum cans, scrap metal, or cardboard, thus the reason for the “sort of” category. I must admit that while our percentage of recyclers wasn’t too bad, I was a bit shocked by these revelations given that our careers are dedicated toward the conservation of our natural resources.
I have been recycling since high school when it involved hauling the items, rinsed and labels removed, to the nearby city hall of my hometown. There I would separate the items into their respective containers, a quick Saturday morning trip. In college, the university had a huge recycling program combined with a refuse-to-energy system that supplied electricity to the campus buildings. (I know when my colleagues read this column they will be amazed by these facts because they are pretty certain electricity hadn’t been invented back then.)
Since those early days I have been fortunate to live out in the country and even though it is 10 miles to the county seat, I have access to many recycling drop off locations. In fact, on my daily commute I pass by three different locations with receptacles provided by the Delaware-Knox-Marion-Morrow (DKMM) Solid Waste District. My usual once-a-week stop is at the Porter Township Maintenance Hall.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Americans create 254 million tons of trash each year and 167 million tons of it ends up in landfills and incinerators. It doesn’t have to though. Check out the DKMM website at www.dkmm.org to see if your township, village, or city offers curbside recycling. If not, then find all of the drop off locations available in the four-county solid waste district. Today’s recycling is practically effortless, no label removing, no sorting involved, and so many more items are recyclable.
A simple change in your daily routine can dramatically reduce the amount of trash that is thrown away. Consider how easy it would be to drop off your recyclables while on your way for a haircut, to buy groceries, or get your morning coffee.
DKMM also provides support to each county and for Delaware the connection is to the Delaware General Health District. Information can be found at www.delawarehealth.org under environmental health and preparedness. In addition to every day recycling, DKMM assists the four counties with special collections such as tires, hazardous waste, televisions, paint, agricultural plastics, and farm equipment tires.
Here are some eye-opening facts according to Recycle Across America, a nonprofit organization:
• Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Five plastic bottles recycled provides enough fiber to create one square foot of carpet or enough to fill one ski jacket!
• When it comes to aluminum, every three months Americans throw away enough aluminum in the landfills to build our nation’s entire commercial air fleet. Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to power a television for three hours!
• More than 28 billion glass bottles and jars end up in landfills every year — the equivalent of filling up two Empire State Buildings every three weeks. Glass can be recycled and remanufactured an infinite amount of times and never wear out!
In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times their adult weight in garbage. Celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15 by becoming part of the solution. Recycling benefits you and the community by conserving natural resources, saving energy, providing jobs, and preventing pollution.
For information about our natural resources visit us at www.delawareswcd.org or find us on Facebook.
Bonnie Dailey is Deputy Administrator, Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District.
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