Reduce Plastic,  Zero Waste

Week 7: Recycle!

Okay. I’ll start off with some scary facts:

  • An average plastic bottle can take around 450 years to decompose while a plastic bag or other plastic item can take up to 1000 years.
  • Aluminum cans can take 80-200 years to decompose.
  • Glass, while being wonderful and easy to recycle, will never ever decompose.

Here are some more items:

Cigarette Butts – 10-12 years;
Monofilament Fishing Line – 600 years;
Rubber-Boot Sole – 50-80 years;
Foamed Plastic Cups – 50 years;
Leather shoes – 25-40 years;
Milk Cartons – 5 years;
Plywood – 1-3 years;
Painted board – 13 years;
Cotton Glove – 3 months;
Cardboard – 2 months;
Nylon Fabric – 30-40 years;
Tin can – 50 years;
Ropes – 3-14 months;
Waxed milk carton – 3 months;
Train tickets – two weeks,
Canvas products – 1 year;
Batteries – 100 years;
Lumber – 10-15 years,
Sanitary Pads – 500-800 years;
Wool Clothing – 1-5 years;

Can you imagine a world without recycling? Can you picture what the landfills in that world might look like? It’s pretty easy to see why recycling is so important! If you’re lucky enough to live in a city that has single stream recycling (where you put all your recyclables in one box for pickup), then recycling is pretty easy to do and sometimes even enforced by municipal bylaws. But here are a few extra points to remember to be a champion recycler:

Make sure you always put recyclable items in the recycling. This includes when you’re out and about using public garbage cans or bathrooms, or when you’re emptying your car at the drive-thru, etc. Also, if you pass something to a clerk at a store, first ask them if they have recycling behind the counter. Most stores only have a garbage bin.

If you don’t live somewhere that has recycling collection (like in rural areas or in apartment buildings without pickup) work with your family, friends, and neighbours to find a solution. Many waste facilities have drop off options if you live out of the city limits. Check out http://search.earth911.com if you live in the US to find a recycling centre near you. If you’re stuck without access to a recycling centre, ask a friend if you can drop some stuff in their blue bin.

If all else fails, try to find inventive ways to recycle your own trash. Pinterest is amazing for finding ways to recycle pretty much anything under the sun. If you have kids, recycling projects can be great arts and crafts projects. We once made super sweet steampunk goggles out of toilet paper rolls, electrical tape, and an old alarm clock!

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