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The First Step in Recycling is not having anything to Recycle!
Most of us know that the recycling symbol made up of three arrows in the shape of a triangle stands for REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE, but have you ever thought of how important that first direction is? Here are some facts and tips about how to make reducing your fist step in your recycling commitment.
Packaging – when you shop, think about how an item is packaged. It might be convenient, but individually wrapped cheese slices or sticks, small packages, personal sized water bottles take significantly more from our environment to produce and result in considerably more waste. Even if you chose something that can be recycled, it’s better to choose single large containers than many small ones. So, what can you do if you like to carry a personal water bottle? Get yourself a reusable plastic or stainless steel bottle and refill it. You will save money, help the environment, and will have less to recycle this way. Only 15% of the plastic water bottles ever make it to recycling centers now, so make a difference by not using them at all (NOTE: it may be unsafe to repeatedly use plastic bottles that are not designed for multiple use).
Plastic Bags – the average US family uses 552 plastic bags/year. Although some of us use them for other “fun” jobs like picking up after our pets, most are only used for an hour or so between the store and home and then end up with the 200,000 others that hit the landfills across American every hour or may even make it to the Pacific Ocean’s floating island of trash that is about the size of the State of Texas. Although plastic bags can be returned to some stores for recycling, they are not “rigid” plastics that can be put in the recycling containers and they are made from non-sustainable petroleum. So what can you do? Bring Your Own Bag(s). Reusable bags are now available for purchase at many grocery stores, large material bags from Baggu are on sale at the CKAC library or go on line to sites like envirosax.com to find user friendly compact designs that fit easily in a purse, consol or door pocket of your car. Once in the habit you’ll be proud to say “I haven’t used a plastic bag since I ready that article in the Cedar Key Beacon in March!”
More Tips Next Week in the BeaconSources The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Green Living by Trish Riley, www.foodandwaterwatch.org.