Recycling – a viable optionThe cultural emphasis on convenience that has taken place in the United States over the last several decades has taken its toll on the environment.
By: Jean Dosdall, R-E Special Sections, The Republican Eagle
By Jean Dosdall
R-E Special Sections
Over the last 10 to 20 years, many communities have heightened their recycling programs. While this has done much to help the environment, in the United States much more can still be done.
According to the World Resources Institute, Americans generate roughly 4.4 pounds of waste per person, per day.
That’s more than double the waste generated by the average person in Spain, and nearly triple that of the average person in Finland.
The average American generates 1 1/2 -2 ton of garbage a year. So while the heightened efforts throughout the country are a good start, there’s clearly more that can be done.
Many Americans are beginning to do more by “precycling,” a means of reducing the amount of resources needed to manufacture goods. This helps combat the ever-growing problem of resource depletion that continues to make frightening headlines on a daily basis.
By following the tips below, Americans can do their part to slow down resource depletion, and do so in a way that will have little or no impact on their daily lives.
• Bring bags to the grocery store.
In an effort to encourage environmentally-conscious behavior, many supermarket chains sell reusable cloth bags that can be used in place of more traditional, environmentally irresponsible choices like paper or plastic.
Even if your local store does not offer such a product, a simple cloth bag strong enough to hold groceries will suffice.
If you do not have a cloth bag to use the city of Red Wing Environmental Resources Division suggests customers request paper bags instead of plastic bags. Plastic bags are not considered recyclable but paper bags are. Wal-Mart in Red Wing does currently accept plastic shopping bags. Residents can bring them in and put them in their large collection bin.
• Embrace the scraps.
Lots of factory-made products are actually made out of scraps. For example, remnants from paper factories are often used to create stationary that’s just as useful and appealing as traditional stationary. The products, which are growing in number seemingly by the day, are often labeled “precycled,” making it easier to pick them out. You can also reduce paper waste by printing on both sides when possible and to re-use paper printed on just one side as “scratch” paper.
To further reduce paper waste, call and have your name removed from catalog mailings if you do not utilize that companies catalog. You can also reduce the need for paper filing by saving documents electronically.
• Dispose of disposable items.
The cultural emphasis on convenience that has taken place in the United States over the last several decades has taken its toll on the environment.
That emphasis is one reason it’s no great surprise that Americans generate so much waste on a daily basis. Using rechargeable batteries can be cost effective and reduce the amount of this type of disposable waste.
Fortunately, this trend can be stopped. Products such as paper plates, styrofoam cups and other items that are typically used only once before being discarded aren’t necessities.
Bring a travel mug to the coffee shop each morning (some shops even offer discounts to those who bring their own, reusable mugs) instead of using the shop-supplied styrofoam cup.
If you don’t want to use the good china for your next backyard barbecue, replace paper plates with reusable plastic plates that are more friendly to the environment.
The City of Red Wing doesn’t pick up Styrofoam as a recyclable material so it should be disposed of with your refuse. However, residents can check with businesses to see if they are willing to take Styrofoam for reuse, especially Styrofoam packing peanuts.
• Part with the packaging.
Whether giving gifts or just in your daily shopping, avoid excess packaging. When giving gifts, don’t waste all that wrapping paper if a reusable gift bag will provide the same effect. On a daily basis, when choosing between two similar products, choose the one with less packaging.
If enough people steer clear of products with too much packaging, eventually that trend will get back to the marketing department and change the way the product is packaged.