The Importance of Recycling
Trash comes from many sources. In addition to bottles, boxes, cans, paper, and yard waste, consumers discard several million tons of tires as well as appliances, furniture, and clothing each year. Packaging waste, including glass, aluminum, plastics, metals, and paperboard contribute significantly to annual waste totals, along with yard trimmings.
Fortunately, many items we no longer need can be recycled and/or reused rather than simply thrown out as trash. Recycling involves taking materials that would normally be discarded as waste and giving them a new life. In some communities, recyclables can be placed in special containers for curbside pickup, while others have drop-off centers or use deposit/refund centers to help encourage residents to not throw away recyclabes. By taking the time to recycle, not only will our need for landfills and incineration be reduced, but we will also be helping to conserve national resources such as timber, water, and minerals, sustaining the environment for future generations.
What You Can Do to Reduce Waste
There are many actions we can take to reduce the amount of waste we generate or that we send to the landfill. Challenge yourself, your family, and even friends to to see just how much waste you can reduce from your weekly curbside pickup. Can you reduce your weekly waste by 25%, 30%, or even 50%? Below are some tips to help you.
- Reuse products. If you do not have a recycling program in your community or if the material or product is not currently recyclable, try to find another use for the product rather than throwing it away.
- Compost organic material. Composting yard trimmings, food scraps, and other organic wastes can dramatically reduce the amount of waste being sent to landfills. To learn more about how to set up your own composting bin, the EPA has developed an online "Composting Is Easy" guide, which consumers can access via the EPA website.
- Use your own re-usable bags to carry home groceries and other purchases.
- Sell or donate products you can no longer use, such as clothing and furniture.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle!!! Take advantage of your community's recycling program, if one is available. If your community does not have such a program, volunteer to start one.
- Strive to support recycling efforts by using products made from recycled material whenever possible.
- Use rechargeable batteries. Using rechargeable batteries not only helps to reduce waste, but it also helps keep the toxic metals found in some batteries out of landfills.
- Donate old or unwanted electronics such as computers and TVs. Many electronics contain materials that are considered toxic and should not be disposed of in a landfill. If your community doesn't have a recycling program or center for used electronics, contact the manufacturer of the product (or the manufacturer of the new one you just purchased or plan to purchase) to see if they have a recycling program for obsolete units.
More tips for reducing waste are available from the EPA's website.