It’s a mantra even schoolchildren know. But how effective are recycling programs really, and what can you do to ensure you’re helping to protect the environment and reduce landfills?
Curbside pickups and single-stream recycling have made the reduction of landfill materials pretty darn easy. But that doesn’t mean you no longer have to think about what and how you recycle.
Since we started mass-producing plastic in our society, billions of tons of it have been produced — and billions of tons are not recycled. National Geographic estimates that 91% of plastic is not recycled. Plastic takes about 400 years to break down, and it’s predicted that by 2050, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish.
However, there are steps you can take to reduce your contribution to plastic pollution. Below we’ve listed just a few.
Always bring reusable bags when you shop.
Don’t buy plastic bottles of water! Reusable containers are the way to go.
Refuse a straw when you order a drink at a restaurant, or carry your own reusable straw (many can be ordered with a carrying bag and their own cleaning brushes).
To find your local recycling guidelines, use Google or call 311 to get an up-to-date list of recyclables accepted in your town and find the location of drop-off recycle centers. For unusual or more complicated questions, visit Earth 911 and enter what you’re trying to recycle and your zip code to find specialty recycling centers near you.
1 EPA.gov, 2 Wasterecycling.org, 3 Waste Management Inc.