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All it takes is a little effort

Fri, Feb 20th, 2009
Posted in Commentary

Some things just get my blood boiling. I've witnessed people at highway Rest Areas dump garbage out their door onto the ground when there is a trash container steps away directly in front of their parked car. I have participated in "Adopt a Highway" cleanups and found that two of the most likely items of discarded trash along the highway are beer cans and used plastic diapers. Recently, I made a trek out to the Fillmore County Resource Recovery/Recycling Center just south of Preston to recycle cans, glass, plastic bottles and more. This service is, in part, paid for with our property taxes. Here too, people fail to make an effort and abuse the service. A little effort from each of us can make life better for all of us.

As citizens we are asked to separate RIGIDS including aluminum cans, foil, tin cans, plastic bottles, jugs, glass bottles, jars, and plastic ice cream pails with plastic handles from FIBERS including newspaper, phone books, magazines, catalogs, boxboard (like cereal boxes), corrugated cardboard and mixed paper. Books, plastic bags and metals are also accepted without cost. It is simply asked that we place them in the appropriate containers or bins.

Appliances, electrical equipment, fluorescent bulbs, and more are accepted with a minimal cost most of the year. There is usually a specific time of advertised special collection for particular items like large appliances where the fee may be waived. Unfortunately, some just dump these items anywhere they please at any time to avoid any charges. This costs all of us. Computers have been placed in the plastic bag bin, clearly labeled for plastic bags only. I've also seen parts of furniture in this bin. We are asked not to mix fibers and rigids and not to put recyclables in plastic bags. All of these requests are ignored by some.

Recycling reduces waste, the volume of waste sent to landfills, and averts the deposition of hazardous materials into landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that as much as 75% of the waste produced is recyclable. The definition of recycling is the "process of taking a product at the end of its useful life and using all or part of it for another product." It has been concluded by the EPA in 2005 that the country's carbon emissions can be reduced by a net 49 million metric tons through recycling practices.

Recycling saves energy. The manufacture of aluminum requires a great deal of energy. The recycling of 'one' aluminum can will save enough energy to power a TV for three hours. Obviously, any plastic produced from scratch uses oil and gas. A glass bottle recycled can save enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for four hours. A pound of recycled steel will save 5450 BTU's of energy. Recycled paper saves 64% more energy than production from trees and recycled cardboard uses about one quarter less energy.

Efforts like recycling can be successful with a little effort from each of us. Take the time, do it right, and our children and grandchildren will enjoy a cleaner, safer planet.

Assuredly, some of the waste put in recycle bins will still make its way to landfills. Even more will go to landfills when items are improperly recycled because of contamination.

With the economy in a slowdown as it is, demand for recycled items fall off. Some argue that recycling is not economical. All the costs of not recycling need to be weighed, including the waste of energy.

Consider recycling items including clothes, furniture, books, games, and more that are at "the end of their useful life" for you, but could be useful in their present form by others, especially in these tough times of higher unemployment. Make the effort to take them to a Good Will store or donate them to another organization that will offer them to those in need.

Remember a little effort from each of us can make life better for all of us.

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