Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 39 of our Green Year: Recycling

Now I know what you guys are thinking. Craig, recycling? Come on that is an easy one. You are right, it is an easy one. Everyone knows they should recycle, but for whatever reason, a lot of people do not recycle. While the percentage of recycled material used by the United States rose dramatically between the 1980s and 1990s, it has not climbed over the past few years. This means that people have more or less 'reached their peak' with recycling, and that peak is far from perfect. Recycling has actually fallen in several cities in the United States, including Seattle, where recycling was once king. Recycling rates in the United States are also their lowest in over ten years, and Americans are throwing away more beverage cans and bottles than ever before. In fact, in 1995, 37 percent of Americans recycled, while in 2002 it was only 21 percent.

That is why for our 39th Day of the Green Year, we are committing to recycling everything that we can. You can see from the picture that we already recycle cardboard, bottles, cans, milk jugs and papers, but we are going to start going a step further. A lot of what we do here in the Baird household is centered on taking what can be recycled and reusing it for another purpose in the house before we recycle it back into the manufacturing line, but we are going to go a step further, and if it can be recycled, we will. No more throwing out items. We aim to be no-impact with our garbage now. I would also like to point out that in that photo you see plastic bags, those are from before we turned Green, and we are slowly getting rid of them through recycling.

The point of this blog is to show people that we are recycling everything we can, and you should to. Far too many people only recycle pop cans and newspapers, when there is so much more that can be done. That is what this Green Year is about, teaching others how to go greener than the norm.

Here is a list of the many things that can be recycled:

File Folders, envelopes, paper, paper clips, staples, newspapers, flyers, magazines, catalogs, text books, coffee trays, phone books, beverage cans, food cans, glass jars, glass bottles, plastic bottles, plastic containers, ink cartridges and electronics.

Here are some 'fun' facts about recycling in the United States.

  • Recycling aluminum saves 95 percent energy than making it from scratch. You can power a TV for three hours by recycling one aluminum can (in terms of energy saved).
  • Enough aluminum is thrown away to rebuild the commercial air fleet of the United States, four times over, every single year.
  • Recycling one glass container saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.
  • Recycled glass generates 20 percent less air pollution and 50 percent less water pollution than making it from scratch.
  • One ton of glass made from 50 percent recycled materials saves 250 pounds of mining waste.
  • You can reuse glass an endless amount of times, yet 41 billion glass containers are made each year.
  • It takes 60 percent less energy to recycle paper than make it from scratch, while generating 95 less air pollution.
  • For every one ton of paper recycled, 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water is saved.
  • Every year enough paper is thrown away to build a 12 foot wall from New York to California.
  • If Americans recycled every plastic bottle they used, it would keep two billion tons of plastic out of the landfills.
  • Americans use enough plastic wrap to wrap all of Texas, every single year.
  • If you incinerate 10,000 tons of waste, you create one job, putting 10,000 tons of waste in the landfill creates six jobs, but recycling 10,000 tons of waste creates 36 jobs.
Did I miss anything that can be recycled? Let me know. Don't forget, send us your photos of you doing green things as outlined in Our Green Year and we will post it on our website.