We all want to do our part to reduce the waste that goes to landfills, but it can be confusing to know which materials are recyclable and how they actually get recycled. Reducing waste as much as possible is an even better solution.
Facts on Recycling Plastics
Single-use plastic is one of the most damaging materials to the earth because it takes several hundred years to break down. It also takes over 30 million barrels of oil to produce the number of plastic bottles demanded by consumers in the United States each year. The greenhouse gas emissions from the annual production of plastic bottles is similar to running a million cars on our roads. In addition, plastic can be recycled a limited number of times to produce new products.
Plastics that make their way into the ocean can also be devastating to birds, fish and other animals and plants. Toxic chemicals can seep into the water and the ocean floor. Fish may try to eat the plastic as well, which is very harmful.
The vast quantity of plastic bottles, bags and packaging that is discarded every day is staggering. Unfortunately, only a small amount of the plastic sent to recycling centers is actually recycled. The remainder finds its way to the landfill. Don’t despair, however. When you do purchase plastic containers, check the packaging. Most products sold in plastic containers are marked with a triangle symbol and a number indicating if it is recyclable. Numbers 1 and 2 on plastics are the most recyclable. For maximum recycling success, pay close attention to this numbering system before you buy products and when you recycle them. Check with your local recycling center if you have questions about what types of plastic they will accept.
Examples of Reducing Waste
You should recycle whenever you can, but an even better idea is to reduce your use of plastics and other single-use products. Some ideas include:
- Make a commitment to stop buying plastic bottles of water. Purchase a reusable water bottle instead, and fill it with water from home.
- Rather than selecting individual serving-sized bottles of juice or soda, buy a large container of your favorite beverage and pour one serving at a time into your reusable water bottle.
- Never buy Styrofoam cups or containers because they aren’t recyclable.
- Avoid using plastic bags at the grocery store and carry reusable totes instead.
Benefits of Buying Recycled Goods
Whenever you can, buy items made from recycled materials. You can find a wide variety of items. Such things as wallets made from sailboat racing cloth or firefighters’ turnout gear, tablecloths made from recycled plastic bottles and reusable grocery bags are available. You can even find razor blade replacement cartridges made from recycled yogurt cups.
If you are looking for baby clothes, you know how quickly your little one grows out of their wardrobe. To avoid continually buying new products for each stage of growth, consider buying outfits from a baby clothes online boutique. If you want to be the most effective at reducing your carbon footprint, look for a company that resells clothes. You can find adorable prints and colors for infants and toddlers in a variety of clothing and accessories. One-piece items to look for include rompers, dungarees and onesies. Pajamas, blankets and hats can keep your baby warm while they sleep.
While you can’t totally eliminate the waste that goes to landfills, you can do your part in reducing it. If everyone would reduce the amount of single-use plastics they purchase, and if they recycle products where possible, it would go a long way in preserving our planet for our children and grandchildren.