Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day 33 - Land Unfill: Recycling

It's a fact that although every family in our state can recycle only 28% do on average.  The original goal of Florida was 30% and we are almost there. The new goal, established by then Governor Charlie Christ was 75% by the year 2020. (*note from a previous blog...a goal with a deadline!)  My neighborhood is probably about 60%.  It is easy to do and good for the environment that any effort outweighs the burden of having to recycle. Recycling is the right thing to do only if we want to do it.  It will make a big difference in the lives of our children.  Here are a couple ways I've found to make a difference in our house:

  1. Take the hair from your hair brush and throw it outside for the birds.  They use it in their nests.
  2. Unplug unused appliances.  The toaster is the first one we can start with and prevents house fires.
  3. Crumble your egg shells and coffee grounds and put them out on the rose bushes. The protein helps the roses and the birds.  The coffee grounds takes the acidity out of the soil.
  4. Start a compost pile with left overs.  Place lots of worms in it, worms are amazing creatures.
  5. Stop buying and drinking bottled water.  It is the single biggest problem in landfills now.  It used to be newspapers but plastic bottles have taken over.  Buy a container and reuse it.
  6. If we see something that could be used in the yard as decoration for example iron work, recycle it from the trash.  Paint is the wonder drug here.  You can paint anything.  We found a bird cage in somebody's trash that they put out a day early.  It is beautiful and the birds love it in the back yard. They are free however to come and go as they please as the door is open.
  7.  If we have a magazine subscription, we can drop them off at the doctor's office or hair salon after reading them.  Maybe someone in your family if they would like to read them.  A magazine should get a minimum of three readers from it.  Great if it's more than that.
  8.   Old wood can be nailed together and put on a tree for a nice bird house.  A square opening is just as efficient as a round one.  No worries if you don't have any tools but a saw, a hammer and some nails.
  9. Shower every other day instead of every day. If we need to shower every day, we can turn off the water while we soap up. 
 10. Wash laundry with cold water.
11. Turn off a light or the TV when it is not in use.
12. Pick up a few cloth bags and keep them in the car. Plastic grocery bags are not necessary then.

This last item is interesting.  In Europe this is common as every person is charged for their plastic bags if they don't have a cloth bag.  I imagine if American stores started charging all of us for the plastic bags, we would switch immediately.  So the money we can see that we are spending will change our habits but the money we don't see won't.  It still costs us not to recycle.  We can't see the money to build more landfills, pay for more plastic bottles, and pay for health issues resulting from landfills in our neighborhoods to name a few. The costs are hidden, but they are there.  With a few modifications to our daily habits, we can control the garbage before it controls us.

There is a sense of empowerment we feel when we recycle.  Being unemployed gives us an unnecessary feeling of lack of control.  Our society places such an identity strength on our occupations.  "I'm a recycler," is a great response to,  "What do you do?" when we're embarrassed to say we are currently unemployed.  It's a lifestyle change and it may take time.  To date I've had to overcome ripping the cardboard into 4 x 4 pieces, washing the jars and aluminum cans, removing the labels, separating the paper from the plastic and glass, and knowing which plastic is recyclable and which is not.  Plastic bags are not recyclable in our city but plastic food containers are.  Try empowering yourself by doing one thing on the list each week.  Eventually we'll all recycle our old way of thinking and empower ourselves to make a difference.

Check out this website for more ideas:

 Energy and Recycling Facts
  • One recycled aluminum can saves enough energy to power a television or computer for 3 hours or a 100-watt light bulb for 20 hours. A six-pack of recycled aluminum cans saves enough energy to drive a car 5 miles.
  • Recycling one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours.
  • Recycling a one-gallon plastic milk jug will save enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for 11 hours.
  • Recycling one pound of steel conserves enough energy to light a 60-watt bulb for 26 hours.
  • Recycling a one-foot high stack of newspapers saves enough electricity to heat a home for 17 hours.

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