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Article Archive >> Featured Topics

The Future of the Earth is in Our Hands

The Future of the Earth is in Our Hands
by Jennifer LB Leese
j.leese@picketnews.com

Is it your turn to take out the trash? Chances are, your trashcan is heavy and full, making it awkward to pull to the street. If you recycle (I have noticed a HUGE difference in the amount of trash set out on the street since we began) then odds are in your favor of having a much lighter trashcan.
Just think about some of the stuff we throw away each day. It's a lot, right? Many of these items can be used for other things. If you do this, you're also recycling. You can make bird feeders and birdbaths out of old plastic food containers, or wrap gifts with newspaper, boxes and wrappings you've saved, or wash and reuse plastic party tableware. We also toss out everything from toothpaste tubes to old TV sets, food scraps to bags, computer games to oil filters. What a waste!
Is recycling really necessary?
Yes! When we recycle we are saving money, conserving energy, open up spaces, saving our lakes and rivers from being polluted, and reducing the cutting down of trees.
Did you know...
...that recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 6,953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, and 3 cubic yards of landfill space?
...according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) each person in the United States generates 4.5 pounds of solid waste each day! How can our landfills handle all of that?
...that it costs millions of dollars to construct and maintain a landfill?
...that recycling creates jobs? The recycling and remanufacturing process creates about one million jobs in America and $236 billion in annual revenue.
... that if we recycle one aluminum can, we are able to save enough energy to run a TV for around 3 hours.
...that it takes 500 years for that one aluminum can to decompose?
...that in 2005 alone the United States generated 2.63 million tons of electronic waste, which works out to be about 400 million units. Sadly, only 330,000 tons (12.5%) were recycled.
...that the energy saved from recycling one glass bottle will light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours?
...that every 118 pounds of newspapers you recycle saves a tree?
...that one ton of cans can prevent 13 tons of Carbon Dioxide and one ton of newspapers can prevent 25 tons?
Are you understanding the importance?
What happens if we don't recycle?
Needless to say, if we don't recycle, we will soon run out of land space to store all our trash and it wastes valuable resources.
Other Ways You Can Help
* If you have the bins already - then congratulations on helping Mother Earth. You are already doing a wonderful job in your part. But, what happens when you're away from home? When you open a bottle of water or a can of soda while at work or at a party, or out at dinner or at a ballgame, do you bring that recyclable home? Recycling doesn't only have to take place in your home. These places really should have recyclable bins, but lots of them don't. They do have trash barrels and that's where most folks are throwing their recyclables. Yikes - this can get ugly! Before bringing it home, ask if they recycle. If they don't, then rinse the item out and bring it home. It's not that hard to do.
* Encourage your friends, co-workers, boss, neighbors, and relatives to recycle. Tell them what you did to start, and tell them how it makes you feel by doing it.
* Make less waste. Buy things that last longer and have little or no packaging. Buy the big bag of chips and take your servings in reusable containers. Buy rechargeable alkaline batteries for your toys, TV control, and boom box. They're less hazardous for the environment and are a great way of making less trash.
* Make a compost. Yard waste and food scraps are not garbage - they're future soil. When you make a compost and later add these items to your gardens and grass areas, you are improving your soil, which in turn makes your grass greener and your gardens grow better.
* Keep a reusable nearby for easy refilling, instead of getting a new cup each time.
* Always turn the light off when you leave your room. This saves money and energy.
There are tons of things you can do... get creative!
List of Items to Place in These Bins
Mixed Paper:
* Magazines
* Envelopes
* Office Paper
* Computer Paper
* Phone Books
* Cardboard
* Newspapers
* Mail
* Colored Paper
* Adhesive Notes
* Catalogs
* Folders
Co-Mingled:
* Aluminum cans (food and beverage)
* Glass jars and bottles (all colors of food and beverage containers)
* Plastic bottles including clear and colored plastic
Note: Bottles, jars and cans must be empty prior to placing them for collection and aluminum cans should be crushed. Paper on cans does not have to be removed but is recommended. Place in the BLUE City of Hagerstown containers and not the green paper recycling bins.
List of Items NOT to Place in These Bins
Mixed Paper:
* Bundled securely with twine or string
* Placed in brown paper grocery bags
* Placed in reusable containers (bins, garbage cans, etc.)
Co-Mingled:
* Window or tempered glass
* Styrofoam
* Pesticide or hazardous chemical containers
* Oil cans and non-aluminum metals
* Medical waste containers (i.e. bags, syringes, hoses) Aluminum furniture or siding
* Plastic bags
* Light bulbs
Should be mandatory in Hagerstown? Yes, I think so. I especially think that businesses should have to as well. It's not hard and doesn't take a lot of time, but what it does for our future is enormous.
The City of Hagerstown "is devoted to collection of residential recycling and garbage. The City desires to reduce our solid waste volume by encouraging residents to recycle using our convenient curbside programs."
It's not just about helping the planet. It's also about giving our children a future of green forests plentiful of healthy trees, rolling open spaces of land where wildflowers can grow, and mountains and land masses filled with thousands of species of plants, insects, and animals.
If we teach our children to take care of their land now, then they'll teach their children to take care of their land in the future. The "lesson" will go on for centuries.
Not only will the City of Hagerstown come and collect your trash and recycles once a week, they also collect your lawn waste (in proper containers and bags) and have a program where you can recycle just about anything in dumpsters (usually placed in the grass area across from Bester Elementary School in the south end).
Get started today! Call "Recycle Hagerstown" at 301-739-8577 x106 and leave your name, address, and telephone number or visit www.hagerstownmd.org/Engineering/RecyclingBin_form.asp and fill out the provided form and request your recycling bins! They'll be delivered to your house in no time. You're already paying for this service, so why not help your environment and start throwing recyclable items into these bins? They're collected every week, come with a set-out calendar, and will match just about any porch or side-of-house theme.
Here's something to think about: If every family and business recycled all recyclables, trash going into the landfill would reduce by 75% in weight.

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