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Garbage cans will haunt us for years
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Trash. Garbage. Waste. Rubbish. Refuse. Debris. Whatever you call it, it is a significant problem. Waste that is not disposed of properly can overwhelm our lives. Have you ever seen pictures of places like France, where workers currently are on strike and the garbage is not being picked up? It just accumulates. When you see mountains of uncollected trash on streets and curbs, it is easy to understand how much waste we create every day. Studies consistently show that Americans — yes, we are the trashiest of all — create anywhere from four to seven pounds of trash a day per person. Finding ways to reduce waste is crucial or one day our world will be a big trash heap as depicted in the movie “Wall-E.” Now that is a scary thought to me. There are no Halloween monsters that have ever scared me as much as that thought! So what do we do?
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It is a simple plan — one that almost any elementary school student can tell you about. But if you are not a grade-schooler, let me explain the dynamics of this little green mantra. There is only so much room available for solid waste disposal. Because landfills are so tightly packed, it takes a great deal of time for material to decompose. The easiest way to reduce solid waste is to reduce your consumption of daily products and avoiding single-use products whenever possible.
Reducing waste is one of the easiest ways to be a good environmental citizen. It is simple. Reduce your footprint by cutting back what you consume daily and choosing carefully what you do consume. Give some thought to what you buy and what you toss.
Community members should always be looking for new ways to address the concern of reduction. The most common, cost-effective way is reducing household waste and recycling. According to the EPA, about 75 percent of what is found in the average garbage can is recyclable. Unfortunately, our national recycling rate hovers at around 14 percent, so there is definitely room for improvement.
Reuse is simply the act of finding a second (or third, or 10th or 100th) use for a product to prolong its life. Reuse is an important step after you have already reduced the amount of waste you are accumulating, but before you are ready to recycle.
Reuse is a process that many of us already implement in our everyday lives for some things without even realizing it. Any time you choose multi-use items or storage containers, you are making ways to re-use items again and again. Any time you buy or sell or give away items using resources like Craigslist, eBay or Goodwill, you are providing an additional use for these products.
Remember, when you want to reuse, creativity is king. Creativity lets us be thrifty by reusing what we already have for new, innovative purposes. Another plus is that reuse is more economical in the long run. And who doesn’t want to save money?
Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste. These items are sorted and processed into raw materials that can be used to create new products. Many items can be recycled every day instead of tossed into garbage cans: newspapers, magazines, glass bottles and containers, plastics bottles and containers, aluminum cans, tin cans and metal items. The list can go on and on.
Locally, we have 12 drop-off centers for collecting items for recycling throughout the county. We also hold quarterly Recycle it! fairs to collect electronics and household hazardous waste items. The next Recycle It! Fair is from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 20, at the old hospital site on Oglethorpe Highway in Hinesville.
For more information on drop-off centers and recycle collections, call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880-4888 or e-mail .
There is actually one more step in the recycling loop. Buying recycled items creates a circle or loop that ensures the overall success and value of recycling. There are more quality recycled products out there than ever before that consumers can purchase and enjoy, wear or work with on a daily basis.
Why go to the trouble to “reduce, reuse and recycle?” Many products that are trashed can be recycled over and over again. Many paper products can be recycled six or more times. That saves money and energy and conserves natural resources.
Then there is the dark side of trash that really scares me. If we don’t reduce and reuse and recycle, what happens to all that trash that we toss every day? It will stay with us and haunt us for years to come. Many everyday items, like plastics and cans, can take hundreds of years to decompose. Glass can take a million years!
Take control of what is happening. Start looking for ways every day to reduce your waste, to reuse items instead of choosing items that can only be used once and recycle every product you can. Your trashcan will be emptier and you will have less trash to haunt you. Then you will only need to worry about goblins and ghosts and vampires — oh my! Happy Halloween!
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