Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – we’ve all heard those words many times. Where did they come from? It seems likely that the slogan originated in the 1970s, a time when Americans demanded attention be paid to air pollution, waste and water quality. Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, started the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970; 20 million Americans came together that day to advocate for the protection of our planet and its resources. The Environmental Protection Agency was created that same year. Six years later, Congress passed the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to increase recycling and conservation efforts.
Keep America Beautiful, in its 2009 report on littering, stated, “approximately 254 million tons of trash is generated each year in the United States. This trash is composed of paper, yard trimmings, food scraps, plastics, metals, rubber, leather and other textiles, glass and wood.” In 2013 Americans recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material equivalent to a 34.3 percent recycling rate.
What is your family doing to reduce waste? Some ideas to reduce waste include using both sides of a piece of paper; leaving grass trimmings on the lawn; buying bigger containers to reduce packaging, then buying a refill instead of a new bottle; buying in bulk to reduce packaging (and save money); taking your own bags to the store; and taking your own container to restaurants for leftovers.
What is your family doing to reuse items and materials to keep them out of the landfill? The tenet of reuse is as old as mankind. Here are some suggestions:
▪ Buy used. Used items are often less expensive and just as good as new.
▪ Buy reusable instead of disposable items. Bring your own silverware and cup to work, rather than using disposable items.
▪ Borrow, rent or share items that are used infrequently, like party decorations and tools.
▪ Get creative – use your artistic talents to make something new out of used items.
▪ Have a garage sale or donate used clothing, dishes, tools, etc. Many charities and thrift shops happily take what you no longer want or use.
Not only does reuse slow down the stream of materials headed toward the landfill, but items made from recycled materials creates less air and water pollution than the making of a new item. Plus there is often the sense of pride when one can turn trash into art or something utilitarian.
What waste products does your family recycle? Aluminum cans are probably the most recycled item in the U.S. That smashed can in your recycling bin can be back on the grocery store shelf as a new can in about two months, and can be recycled over and over again. One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to run your TV for about three hours, yet that aluminum can in the landfill lasts up to 500 years!
Encourage your family to do its part in reducing, reusing and recycling to save the earth’s resources.
Keep Our Mountains Beautiful
KOMB picks up litter throughout Eastern Madera County and advocates for more recycling opportunities. Its next meeting is Thursday, Nov. 1, 6:30 p.m. at Round Table Pizza in Oakhurst. Everyone is welcome. Details: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Sandee Scott at 559-760-1058