Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. The common three words that we hear almost every day in our lives represent our carbon footprint and determine whether or not we can stitch back the world little by little every day. Recycling significantly reduces the need for landfills. The world has changed very much in the past century and the amount of waste we produce as humans is rapidly increasing. Take plastic water bottles for example. They take approximately 500 years to degrade (if they even degrade at all); during this process release harmful toxins. Or for example, petroleum-based plastics that have been eaten mistakenly by animals and caused the extinction. Recycling has many benefits such as the following:
- Reduces the amount of waste produced affecting biodiversity when disposed of incorrectly
- Conserves natural resources from getting polluted such as underground springs, freshwater, wood and minerals.
- Prevention of overuse of products
- Saved energy and leads to a greener future
If we recycle certain objects or items we use every day, we can reduce the impact we have on landfills. Here are the 11 most common items that you would think should go in your blue recycle bin.
- Some takeout containers – Grease is a contaminator for other recyclable items. Leave grease-soaked boxes and other cardboard containers, or anything with leftover food particles out of your recycling bin.
- Plastic bottle caps – Plastic water bottles are recyclable and can even be used to create unique items that you would find at a store. However, the plastic bottle cap probably isn’t recyclable because they’re often made from a type of plastic that can’t be recycled. When it comes to recycling bottles, make sure they are crushed before sending them off to the recycling facility.
- Paper products – Paper products such as paper towels, tissues and napkins are considered too contaminated to be recyclable. This is where we can implement the second R; reuse. Instead, try using washable, cloth napkins for a more sustainable home. Some boxes, such as those used for frozen foods, also may not be recyclable since they have a coating that can’t be broken down properly in the recycling process. This is also the same for some textbook papers since they have a shiny glossy coating that is not recyclable.
- Coloured Paper – Paper that is dyed is often heat-treated which may contaminate it and make it unrecyclable. Try turning a colourful poster board into creating unique arts and crafts with your family.
- Shredded Paper – While the paper is often recyclable, shredded paper can be a problem for recycling facilities since it is difficult to sort. It slips through the recycling centre’s machinery. Instead of getting turned into a paper that would normally get pulped and recycled into new paper products, it gets landfilled. However, there are many DIY you can create with shredded paper such as a stuffing for DIY dog beds!
- Plastic Grocery Bags – Although plastic bags do fall under plastic like plastic water bottles, they are not recyclable. Consider switching to cloth grocery bags since they are sustainability-friendly and money-friendly as well.
- Drink Cartons – Before tossing an orange juice box into your recycling bin, make sure it has the recycling symbol on it. The plastic coating on many of these boxes makes them unsuitable for recycling. Try even creating a small bird feeder with the juice box and enjoy the welcoming sounds of spring.
- Styrofoam – it cannot be recycled and is not biodegradable. In addition, research has shown that Styrofoam is a possible carcinogen for humans since its main building block is styrene. Try limiting your use of Styrofoam coffee cups, food containers and packing peanuts. When ordering from restaurants, ask for reusable containers or recyclable containers.
- Some Types of Glass – While broken glass is recyclable, it shouldn’t be tossed in your recycling bin as it can injure workers. Instead, check with your local facility to see if they accept broken glass. Drinking glasses have a different chemical composition and melting point compared to container glass. Mixed together can be hazardous for workers. For example, glass light bulbs, mirrors, eyeglasses and baking dishes should not be placed in recycling bins.
- Wire Hangers – Recycling facilities, most of the time, are not set up to deal with wire/wire products. However, your local dry cleaner may take your old wire hangers. However, old wires can be used to unclog kitchen sinks and keep paint cans clean.
- Ceramics – ceramics usually have high melting points which interfere with other items that are recycled at recycling plants. Broken ceramics likely belong in the trash, not the recycling bin as many recyclers cannot accept them. If you have several broken mugs and dishes, contact your local recycling facility to see if they will accept them (there are always exceptions since some facilities may grind them up to be used in other ways).
Recycling is the epitome of importance to a healthier, sustainable future. We have the power in our hands to stitch back our world together. Climate change, greenhouse gases, global warming can all decrease if we pitch in and take our part by learning in further detail about recycling procedures. It is up to us to decide the status of our world; it is in our hands.
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By Sarah Syed