Recycling is one of the best ways for all of us to affect our world for the better. Recycling helps to enhance the natural environment and to preserve it for future generations. By making the proper steps towards reducing, reusing and recycling what we can, all of us can make a difference to make the world cleaner and more enjoyable.
Everything starts with one person taking one step, such as putting a plastic water bottle into a recycling bin, or buying reusable shopping bags. As the world population swells, more waste will be created, so, all of us should play a role in recycling what we can.
This guide explains how recycling can and does make an impact upon the world, and how you can be a part of it.
Recycling and Reusing Plastics
In the US, approximately 2,500,000 plastic bottles are used hourly. Sadly, most of them are thrown in the garbage and end up in landfills. But using reusable water bottles can greatly reduce the number of bottles that wind up in landfills. The same holds true for plastic bags; you can purchase custom reusable grocery bags to reduce pollution and waste.
Reducing plastic waste is important because it takes up to 400 years to break down most plastics in a landfill. Imagine the amount of plastic that could be reduced by switching to reusable bags and water bottles (see recycled plastic bags from bottles) instead of throwing away plastic ones.
Also, recycling plastics conserves almost 90% more energy than when they are made from new materials.
If you want to increase your worldly impact by recycling plastics, you should make certain that every plastic water, juice or milk bottle you use goes into the recycling bin in your home or office. Did you know that people in the US throw away enough plastic bottles to go around the Earth four times? Recycled plastic bottles can be used to make more bottles and also many types of consumer products, such as polyester carpet.
Here is how plastics are typically recycled and make a positive impact on our world. Remember to do your part and recycle all plastics you can by putting them in the proper bin:
- Collection: In most major US towns and cities, there are recycling programs established for consumers and residents. People have collection bins that they set in front of their homes where they place their plastic recyclables each week. Many tons of plastics are collected in these bins every week and taken to local collection centers.
- Sorting: When the recyclables get to the collection center, the different plastic items are sorted usually by type, resin content and color. This process ensures that all plastics are recycled in the right ways and all contaminants are eliminated. There are special machines to aid workers in sorting plastics according to size, shape and resin content.
- Shredding: After the different types of plastic are sorted and separated, the next step is for the plastics to be chopped or shredded. The containers and bottles then are ground up and cut into tiny flakes. The lighter and heavier flakes are separated with special machines. This separation process ensures that different plastics are not combined late in the recycling process.
- Cleaning: The flakes are washed to remove all contaminants, and then they are further sorted based upon resin type by machine.
- Melting: The flakes are melted down and are either made into new plastic products are made into pellets to be shipped to companies to make new products from recycled plastics.
Reducing Waste and Composting
When we compost yard and food waste, nutrients in the ground are replenished naturally and landfill space is saved. Approximately 30% of materials that go to landfills could be composted in the home. Most American homes could compost up to 38% of their waste, which would do a lot to reduce what goes to landfills. Composting also assists in balanced soil pH, and makes clay and other similar soils easier for digging and gardening.
You can make a worldly impact by learning how to compost yourself. Here’s how to do it:
- Select your type of backyard compost bin. The most common are an open pile or compost bin. Bins are neater and keep animals out, while also preserving heat. Compost bins can be purchased from home and garden stores, or you can build your own.
- Chose composter location. The best is to have a flat, well drained location with plenty of sun. You also should find a spot that is convenient for you. If the compost bin is 200 feet from the kitchen, how likely are you to use it every day?
- Alternate waste layers. Begin with a coarse twig layer to allow for drainage and aeration. This layer should be covered with leaves. Then alternate between green (nitrogen rich) and brown (carbon rich) waste materials.
- Add yard and kitchen waste as they accumulate. Collect kitchen food waste in a container in your kitchen. When you add food waste to the composter, top it with a brown layer. If you don’t, the compost will be too wet and break down slowly.
- Add until bin is full. The contents will shrink as the waste decomposes.
- To get compost faster, make sure that fresh material is mixed in with the lower layers. The compost should be as wet as a wrung out sponge.
- Turn or mix the compost each week to increase the breakdown process.
- Final compost should be crumbly and dark and smell like earth. This process can take four to six months. Compost can be used on your lawn, in flower beds or as a soil conditioner.
Water and Energy Conservation
The EPA reports that the annual energy that treats and delivers water for 10 homes could run a refrigerator for 24 months. The average home uses 10 gallons of water per day simply through leaks, and our homes use 22% of the energy produced in America. But few practice proper energy and water efficiency in the home.
Below are steps to follow to conserve water and energy and make an impact on the world:
- Wash only full loads of laundry and save 3,400 gallons of water per year, as well as plenty of energy; 90% of electricity used in the washing machine is for heating water.
- Cook more meals in the microwave, toaster oven or slow cooker to save energy. The oven uses the most energy by far in your kitchen.
- Be smart about using water heaters, consumer electronics and toilets. Shut off what you are not using, and turn down the water heater. Toilets use 30% of the water in a home. TVs and computers use 15% of the electricity in the home.
- Purchase WaterSense and EnergyStar appliances when your old ones wear out. These products use water and energy more efficiently. The most popular items are washing machines, dishwashers, TVs, and toilets.
- Greywater can be used to water shrubs, trees and flowers, which can really reduce your water bill.
Additional Articles on Recycling
- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Tips + Paper, Plastic and More!
- 25 Reasons to Use Reusable Bags!
- Collapsing Seas: Population Declines in our Oceans and Seas
- All About Recycling + Facts and Statistics
- How a Landfill Works + Facts and Statistics
- Plastic Bags Usage + Bans Around the World
- Things to Do with Reusable Shopping Bags
- Use Recycled Bags for Church Fundraising
- Use Recycled Grocery Bags for School Fundraisers
We hope you have learned some valuable things about how recycling affects the world, and how you can be a part of those positive effects.
- Recycling Plastic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/recyclingplastic.php
- How to Conserve Water and Energy in Your House. (2017). Retrieved from https://sciencing.com/conserve-water-electricity-house-23539.html