What is recycling?
Recycling is defined as the act of removing from the overall waste stream those materials that can be reused in their original or reconstituted form. It is the process by which materials are collected and used as raw materials for new products. There are four steps in recycling: collecting the recyclable components of municipal solid waste, separating materials by type, processing them into reusable forms and purchasing and using the goods made with reprocessed materials. Recycling prevents potentially useful materials from being landfilled or combusted, thus preserving our capacity for disposal.
Why bother to recycle?
- Recycling saves natural resources: Substituting recyclables for raw materials saves the raw material from being used and saves the space in landfills for materials that cannot be recycled.
- Recycling saves energy: Substituting recyclables for new raw materials in manufacturing saves energy. Recycling can conserve 95% of the energy required to manufacture aluminum (enough energy to run a TV set for 3 hours), and from 40-70% of the energy necessary to produce glass, paper, and other metal products. It takes 17 tress and 16,320 kilowatt hours to make 1 ton of paper compared to 5,919 kilowatt hours to make 1 ton of recycled paper; that’ an energy savings of 64%.
- Recycling saves landfill space: In the United States, almost one ton of solid waste per person is collected annually from residential, commercial and institutional sources. Recycling reduces this amount.
- Recycling produces less pollution: 74% less air pollution is produced from the manufacture of recycled paper compared to paper made from raw wood pulp. 35% less water pollution is produced when making recycled paper, and 58% less water is used when making paper from recycled paper instead of virgin pulp. Americans improperly dispose approximately 220 million gallons of used motor oil every year; that’s 20 times the amount of crude oil the Exxon Valdez tanker spilled in Alaska. One gallon of motor oil improperly disposed has the potential of contaminating 1 million gallons of drinking water; that’s a year’s supply of water for 50 people.
- Recycling stimulates job growth
- Recycling is the law in New Jersey
Interesting Facts to support recycling in your office:
- Over 60% of the garbage going to local landfills is business/industrial waste.
- American businesses go through 300 million rolls of fax paper every year. In 1990, over 30 billion faxes were sent.
- 37% of the estimated 400 billion copies made by American businesses each year end up in the trash can. It takes over 11 million tress to make that discarded paper.
- In 1991, there were more than 7 million copiers in operation in the US. These copiers produce nearly 400 billion copies per year (almost 750,000 copies per minute).
- An average American worker used between 10-20 pounds of paper per month.
- Approximately 85% of office waste is recyclable paper.
- American businesses use over 21 million tons of paper every year.
- Recycling at work is great pubic relations for your business. Customers and associates appreciate environmental consciousness.
What is solid waste?
Solid waste is a fancy term for the things people throw away. Solid waste is material that is considered worthless or unnecessary. Below are some interesting facts. Americans throw away:
- enough aluminum in three months for the United States to rebuild its entire commercial airfleet
- each year, the equivalent of a 12-foot high wall of office and writing paper that stretches from the New Jersey shore to California.
- 2.5 million plastic bottles -- every hour.
- 31.6 million tons of yard waste (grass, brush, leaves) each year.
- 2 billion disposable batteries, 350 million disposable lighters, 1 1/2 billion ball-point pens, and 2 billion plastic razors each year.
- 18 billion disposable diapers each year; laid end-to-end they could reach to the moon and back 7 times.
- enough garbage to fill the New Orleans Superdome every 12 hours.
- 43,000 tons of food every day; this is the equal to the weight of 50,000 compact cars.
What is manufactured from recyclables?
Recyclables supply industries with raw materials for manufacturing a variety of products.
- Newsprint and corrugated paper may be used to produce insulation, packaging products, gameboards, building materials, animal bedding, tube or core board, roofing felt and newspaper. Mixed paper and white ledger and printing paper can be made into napkins, facial tissues, paper towels as well as new office paper.
- Plastic bottles can be made into fiberfill for jackets, pillows, rope, filters, insulation, carpeting, flower pots, toys, appliance parts, bath tubs, sinks, "lumber" for decks, boardwalks, picnic tables and benches as well as buckets, paint brushes and videotape holders.
- Steel food and beverage cans can be made into any new steel product.
- Glass bottles and jars can be made into fiberglass insulation, brick making and glassphalt paving material, as well as new glass containers.
- Aluminum cans are made into new aluminum cans and other aluminum products such as lawn chairs and window frames as well as car parts.
- Concrete and asphalt can be crushed and recycled into new concrete or road paving.
- Leaves and grass clippings can be recycled into compost and used as mulch.
- Branches can be chipped for use as landscape mulch.
- Auto batteries can be recycled into new auto batteries.
- Used motor oil can be re-refined into new motor oil.
- Tires can be retreaded or used to make tire reefs, truck mud guards, road fill, carpet padding, wire & pipe insulation, floor mats, dock and trailer bumpers.
What are the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce: Make less garbage to start with by:
- Becoming an "Environmental Shopper" - buy products with less packaging and buy products made from recycled content.
- Don’t use disposable products if you can use permanent, reusable, fixable and washable items.
- Bring lunch, snacks or drinks in refillable containers.
- Use rechargeable batteries.
- Write or make copies on BOTH sides of paper.
Reuse: Reuse things before recycling or putting them in the garbage. For example:
- reuse containers, boxes, packaging and scrap paper.
- give away, swap or sell outgrown equipment and toys.
- repair, restyle, recycle into consumes or donate clothing.
- share, rent or borrow items for special projects or events.
- It it’s broken - fix it!
- Use products in containers accepted by local recycling programs.
- Separate and prepare items as directed by your municipality.
- leave grass clippings on the lawn - it replenishes nutrients.
What do the three arrows in the recycling symbol mean?
Collect, Process, Manufacture. All are essential for recycling to work. Separate recyclables as well as purchase items made from recycled process to complete the "loop."
- Collect: items recycled by your municipality, company or school. Make sure to prepare them according to instructions.
- Process: Separated materials are cleaned, shredded or baled and sold to industries for manufacturing.
- Manufacture: Material is reprocessed and used to make new consumer products.
What is source reduction?
Source reduction, generally speaking, means reducing the amount of solid waste which enters the waste stream. It means that waste is prevented before it is created by using materials more efficiently, using reusable products and extending life of products. In other words, source reduction can be achieved by:
reducing the total volume of disposable packaging material generated for domestic, commercial, industrial and governmental use by:
- reducing the disposal impact of packaging waste by changing to more environmentally benign packaging material;
- increasing the recyclablility of packaging products that cannot be reduced;
- increasing the recycled material content of packaging products.
What do the different numbers molded into plastic containers mean?
Manufacturers of plastic containers have developed a labeling system consisting of code numbers 1 to 7, representing seven types of plastic. Check the bottom of each container for a recycling symbol with the code number inside. Your local municipality can help determine which types of plastics are acceptable in your community. The most acceptable types are #1 and #2. The code numbers, along with their respective types of plastics and most common uses are as follows:
- #1 PETE (polyethylene terephthalate) soda and beverage bottles. Also mouthwash bottles, peanut butter jars and some spice and ketchup bottles.
- #2 HDPE (high density polyethelyne) usually milk and water jugs, detergents, bleaches and cleaners
- #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride)telephone cable, floor mats, irrigation pipe, truck bed liners, garbage cans
- #4 LDPE (low density polyethelyne) trash bags, grocery bags, fiberfill for pillows, pipe, plastic lumber
- #5 PP (polypropylene) carpet backing, auto battery cases, video cassette cases, plastic lumber
- #6 PS (polystyrene) food trays, cups, silverware, toys, plastic lumber, garbage cans, insulation, combs
- #7 Other plastic lumber, parking lot backstops, barrier retainers, fencing, sign posts, pallets, picnic tables, playground equipment, and flooring
What is Grasscycling?
Grasscycling is the natural way YOU can have a green, healthy lawn while spending less time and money!
Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t. YOU can be the envy of your neighbors with a beautiful lawn with much less work and expense.
Wouldn’t you rather be sipping an ice cold lemonade in the shade, rather than spending time emptying those grass clippings into expensive bags, and then lugging those heavy bags out to the curb for trash or recycling pick-up? (A typical lawn of 5,000 square feet generates about 75 pounds of grass clippings per mowing.)
Years of research have shown that by mowing frequently (5-6 times per month) and not bagging those clippings can save lawnowners up to 40% of the time they spend on routine lawn care!
Imagine what you can do with that exta time! Golf anyone? (Speaking of golf, have you ever seen grass being bagged at a golf course? Of course not! Pun intended!)
So far so good? Read on to learn how simple grasscycling is!
Simple steps for Grasscycling:
- Cut only the top 1/3 of the grass blade and LEAVE the clippings right on the lawn.
- Mow when the grass is dry to avoid tracking and clumping.
- Keep your mower blade sharp.
- No special equipment is necessary. While mulching mowers are available, and do a great job, ANY conventional mower can grasscycle---just remove the bag! (In the case of rear discharge mowers, the exhaust chute must be shut off.) Adapter kits or retro-fit kits are available for your conventional mower for about $15.
Other beneifts to Grasscycling:
Water and Fertilize Less:
• When grasscycling is properly done, clippings settle quickly between the growing blades of grass where they shleter the roots from the sun, conserving moisture. As they break down, they release more moisture as well as nutrients into the soil. This means that grass needs to be watered less frequently.
• Believe it or not, clippings left on the lawn supply one-third or more of the nitrogen needed to keep your grass green and healthy. Don’t throw fertilizer away with chippings, grasscycle!
What about thatch?
Thatch is an accumulation of dead roots, stems and rhyzomes which are parts of the grass plant that decompose slowly. Clippings, which are 95 percent water, are leaves of the grass plant and decompose too quickly to contribute to thatch.
What are some interesting statistics about recycling?
- Hotels will create 1.5 pounds of solid waste per day per room
- 1 ton of solid waste is equal to 3.5 cubic yards of solid waste
- Each person produces 3.5 pounds of solid waste per day
- There are 6 two liter bottles in one pound of PET
- One three foot stack of newspapers is equal to one tree, approximately 30 feet tall
- One three foot stack of newspaper weighs 100 pounds
- To make one ton of virgin paper uses 17 trees (3 2/3 acres of forest)
- 62,860 trees must be cut to provide pulp for a single edition of the Sunday New York Times.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves the energy equivalent to one cup of gasoline.
- A steel mill can reduce its water pollution 76% and mining wastes 97% using scrap metal, such as steel cans, instead of iron ore.
- In the summer, nearly one third of all summer waste handled by garbage haulers consists of grass clippings.
- In the fall, leaves comprise as much as half of all waste generated by residents.
- One dollar out of every $11 spent on groceries goes to pay for packaging
- 32% of all municipal waste is from packaging.
- Americans are the world’s trashiest people. US citizens consume more goods per capita than any other nation in the world. Each year we throw away:
- enough aluminum to rebuild the entire American Airlines air fleet 71 times.
- enough steel to reconstruct Manhattan
- enough wood and paper to heat 5 million homes of 200 years.
- one third of all of the food we buy
Cleaning with a Conscience
Here are some tips that can help you and the environment, from Earth Share, a nonprofit organization that focuses on environmental education.
Planning to refinish some furniture this spring? Use water-based or vegetable-based paints, stains, and varnishes. Remember; don't wash paint thinners, household cleaners, oil, or pesticides down the drain. Instead, use them up or give leftovers to friends or a charity. Also, you can call your local City Hall to find out about the next hazard collection day.
Adding new color to your walls this spring? When painting, don't sand or burn off paint that may contain lead. Lead particles in the paint could cause lead poisoning. If your paint is peeling, use a wet sponge or mop to clean up the debris instead of sanding. Never vacuum the dust or chips from lead paint; it will only disperse more lead dust into the air.
Getting rid of the junk in your garage or attic? Hold a yard sale. Talk to your neighbors and organize a community yard sale. You can increase neighborhood relationships, earn some extra cash, and help the environment at the same time. If a yard sale seems like too much work, donate your stuff to your local nonprofit thrift store.
Does your water bill seem a little high? Wasted water hurts the environment and your checkbook. Always fix any leaky faucets in your house. Often a five-minute project can save gallons of water. You can also place a large rock in a toilet's tank to save water when flushing. Be sure to check hoses and sprinklers periodically and fix any leaks.
We spend hundreds of dollars a year on cleaning supplies. This spring, make your own cleaning agents with these recipes from Earth Share and Earth Ways, two nonprofit environmental organizations. The recipes are friendly to the environment and your bank account.
Countertops, cupboards, and walls - Dip a cloth in warm water, then add dish soap and baking soda (the baking soda serves as a soft abrasive to remove tough spots and light scratches).
Air fresheners - Simmer a small amount of cinnamon, orange peel, and cloves on the stove to give off a pleasant fragrance in your home.
Glass cleaner -Mix 2 tablespoons borax or washing soda with three cups of water for sparkling windows and mirrors.
Carpet freshener - Sprinkle dry cornstarch or baking soda on the carpet and vacuum.
Rug stains - Rub borax into dampened area, let dry, then vacuum or repeatedly blot stain with a mixture of vinegar and soapy water.
Mildew build-up- make a paste of vinegar and salt, and apply to built-up area.
Furniture polish - Combine 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1-cup vegetable oil, olive oil, or mayonnaise. Apply to rag.
More cleaning tips:
When you buy cleaning products, look for ones that are non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate-free, and chlorine-free.
Reduce paper use. Use rags instead of paper towels and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins.