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smokey the bear

I have been super obsessed with trash lately. I think about it with every piece of garbage I throw out. Most of the thoughts I have revolve around, could I have I recycled that, if not, why? I feel that everything we make should be able to be recycled and if you can’t recycle it, don’t make it. Let me also emphasize that means if you can recycle it without releasing deadly toxins into the air, water or land.

I am no saint, I don’t want to have to clean my yogurt container, aluminum foil, plastic everything ever really. I do it, but I do not enjoy the process. I think it has to do with America and its not very user friendly local recycling processes.  There is no national recycling marketing machine out there educating us on what we can and can not recycle throughout our lives. We are not given the tools, for example, recycling bins clearly labeled on what should be contained within them. It is not second nature and could be quite easily.  I learned many things about fire prevention from Smokey the Bear. The Ad Council is a powerful tool to get some recycling PSAs out there.

Another thing is there are no real negative consequences for people who are not recycling, nor are there positive ones for people who do. We all enjoy a little positive reinforcement now and again. There are laws in America against littering in public places, but not for littering in define places. That seems ignorant. We should not be able to litter anywhere. Landfills are a disaster.

I did a little research on garbage decomposition to get myself more motivated. Here is what I came up with.

Glass…most forms of glass will never decompose or biodegrade ever. There is this glass, Obsidian, that dates back to the Cretaceous (Latin for “chalky”) geologic period and system from circa 145.5 ± 4 to 65.5 ± 0.3 million years ago. In the geologic timescale, the Cretaceous follows on the Jurassic period and is followed by the Paleogene period of the Cenozoic era.  For those who don’t want to do the math, that means about 36 million to 65 million year old glass. That’s crazy, some poor dinosaur foot cutting glass. I said it. :]

The good thing about glass is how simple it is to recycle. Virgin glass is primarily made of sand, lime and soda. A glass manufacturer’s boiler must run at about 2192 degrees Fahrenheit (1200 degrees Celsius) to melt the sand, soda, and lime into glass. Making glass from recycled glass uses 32% less energy than making virgin glass because it melts at a much lower temperature. This process is to shatter the glass into small fragments called “cullet”. You then melt that down to make new glass. Products made from recycled glass save on the extraction of raw materials and produce approximately 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than virgin glass. Point, recycle your glass don’t just throw it out.

I think I’ll stop with glass for today, maybe we’ll catch up with plastic bottles and bags at a later date.

Recycle, Reuse.

-Cara

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