Not everybody can be on a professional sports team. But it takes little to no talent on how to improve your skills and knowledge on the professional art of recycling.
The issue we see as a group is as you walk around campus, you see the various garbage and recyclable disposal sites, but are we as a community taking advantage of and utilizing them properly?
Although we think of the term “Recycling” as broad and simple, it can be complex in terms of how to effectively accomplish it at a consistent level.
The Green Team has gathered together to get the word out on how to expand and improve recycling around you and others in the community.
How to Recycle Like a Pro!
Step 1: Identifying What Material Gets Recycled
Most people can identify what materials and objects can be recycled, plastic bottles, cans, paper, cardboard, etc. There are, however, other items that often get overlooked such as ink cartridges and batteries.
Most types of plastic bottles are either #1 plastic (PET) or #2 plastic (HDPE) and can be recycled at any curbside recycling bin, or in any of the plastic recycling depositories on campus.
Almost every aluminum can be recycled, and those that do are typically reconstructed into a new can and back on the shelf within 30 days.
A lot of students tend to have extra scrap paper or handouts that end up going to waste in a landfill. According to the University of Southern Indiana, Americans use over 85,000,000 tons of paper a year.
By choosing to recycle the paper right in front of you instead of throwing it away you can help save up to 680 pounds of paper a year by yourself! These are items most people know to recycle even if they chose not to.
Batteries and ink cartridges are less commonly known recycled materials. Did you know that it takes a single battery 100 years to fully decompose?
Ink cartridges are even more detrimental, clocking in a decomposition lifespan of 450 years! (Some components can take up to a millenium).
The chemicals and heavy metals used in the processing of these materials can leak into the environment and pollute the soil and drinking water. Read this great article on what batteries could do to the environment by Seattle PI.
Step 2: Placing Your Recyclables in the Right Place
Not many people are aware of all of the things that can be recycled. People usually just assume that only paper goods and plastic bottles can be recycled. But, that’s far from true.
In addition to paper and plastic recycling, there’s wood, textiles (clothing), wood, glass, and even some of the most “hardcore” pieces of rubble from a construction site can be recycled and repurposed over and over again.
Now, the hardest part about it is that even if you know that you have recyclables that need to be separated in a specific way, and sent to a specific place, where do you send them?
On campus, we have the basic trash and recycle bins all around. In the trash rooms of the resident halls we have a special section for “commingled” items (aluminum, plastic, glass, & milk/juice jugs).
Batteries can be disposed of around this map on campus. Compost can be collected at all of the dining halls. Blown out light bulbs can be recycled through contacting the Office of Environmental Health & Safety. Ink jet/toner cartridges can be recycled near the dorm offices and near the Rapid Copy Print Center (Pro tip: they can also be recycled at Staples/Office Max for a discount on your next ink purchase).
Most importantly, in this world of evolving technology we are constantly being bombarded with new devices and suddenly find ourselves with a bunch of old devices that we believe we don’t need anymore, don’t throw it away, recycle it by calling the Office of Environmental Health & Safety at (518) 442-3495.
Step 3: Be an Eco-friendly Consumer
While you’re out at the store grabbing groceries for the dorm or your house at home, you can start to be mindful of what you are buying.
Having a sustainable mindset while shopping can improve your process in order to achieve successful recycling. When you are done checking out of the grocery store and head on home, you can save your bags for the next time you go to the store again. As opposed to throwing out the plastic bags, reusing them can effectively save plastic in the long run.
Also, you can be mindful of WHAT you are purchasing at the store. For instance, you can be mindful of what bottles/cans can be recycled for deposit.
People will blindly throw Gatorade bottles into the recyclables, but in reality they do not grant a deposit for 5 cents. Gatorade/Powerade bottles contain a PET type of plastic as noted above, which is taken and recycled for more expansive purposes like even clothing.
Step 4: Share This Information!
Improper or apathetic recycling attitudes are a major issue in the fight for sustainability. It takes more than the positive acts of a few dedicated and informed people to make a major difference.
After following these steps, tell your friends! Tell your family! Tell strangers! If we could find a way together, to change the public perception and actions of recycling in the United States, and across the planet, we could find ourselves at the helm of a sustainability flag ship riding the wave of progression to a less polluted planet.
Share this post and write your own, try and get your community involved and make proper recycling an issue that won’t continue to get overlooked.
Image courtesy of ualbanyphotos.com