MAKING A DIFFERENCE BY RECYCLING
The recycling we do makes a difference. Consider these facts about recycling:
- In a lifetime, the average American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage. This means that, without recycling, each adult will leave a legacy of as much as 100,000 pounds of trash for his or her children.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a television, or operate a computer for three hours
- Every glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for four hours
- Each American disposes of about 35 pounds of old clothing and other textiles each year. 10 pounds per person is recycled. Of all the old clothing donated for recycling and re-use, 44% ends up as second-hand clothing (typically sold to third world countries), 20% is used to make wiping and polishing cloths, and the rest is used to make other fiber products.
- Recycled HDPE (#2) bottles are used to make more bottles (36%), pipe (19%), lawn/garden items (11%), and lumber (8%).
- Half of all the polyester carpet manufactured in the U.S. is made from recycled plastic bottles. It takes five two-liter plastic bottles to make one square foot of carpet.
- Each year, Illinoisans use and dispose 1.1 billion foam cups, enough to encircle the Earth 19 times.
- Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour! www.illinoisrecycles.org/facts.html
Recycling benefits the environment as evidenced by these facts from Illinois Recycles:
- Manufacturing goods from recycled materials requires less energy than producing goods from virgin materials. This means fewer fossil fuels are burned and less carbon dioxide is emitted to the atmosphere
- By diverting organic materials from landfills, the methane naturally released when these materials decompose is reduced.
- Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in wood. Waste prevention and recycling of paper products allow more trees to remain standing in the forest.
- Recycling reduces the need for landfills, allowing local lands to be used in more environmentally preferable ways. And, by substituting scrap materials in place of trees, metal ores, minerals, oil, and other virgin materials, recycling reduces the pressure to expand forestry and mining production.
Many businesses have worked to include recycling and recycled materials in their products. Illinois Recycles reports on an interesting and creative new business in Trenton, New Jersey: “TerraCycle produces a potent, organic, eco-friendly plant food that is the first mass-produced product in the world to be packaged in used plastic soda bottles. To go even further, the entire product is made out of garbage - from the contents to the packaging. As a result, TerraCycle Plant Food is the first mass-produced consumer product to have a negative environmental footprint.” More information at www.terracycle.org.
Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water
Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer, 11/05/08/ (for publication on 11/15/08 in the Journal-Standard, Freeport, Illinois).
Della can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org