There is a lot of talk about “going green” in our communities and a lot of action taken through recycling. Whether you acknowledge global climate change or not, most people don’t want themselves or their children to grow up in a landfill; and an easy way to prevent this is to start recycling.
One of the biggest reasons people don’t recycle is because it’s not convenient. Many communities do not offer an accessible way to recycle and instead of residents looking into how they can overcome the inconvenient challenge, they just throw everything away.
Fortunately, the Omaha-metro area does offer home pick-up of recyclables – like aluminum, plastic and paper – and stations around the city to recycle glass. Papillion Sanitation and Apple Trash are both going an extra step to ensure that the residents they service have accessible recycling that also offers rewards.
Papillion Sanitation and Apple Trash are both taking part in RecycleBank, a program which offers recyclers rewards by partnering with cities and haulers. By recycling electronics, furniture, clothes hazardous material and day to day waste, people can earn points redeemable at over 1,500 local and national retailers. Along with your weekly recyclable pickup you can call to schedule junk removal from your home.
Even if your community doesn’t offer these kinds of rewards for recycling, there are other “rewards” that can come from recycling.
According to the National Recycling Coalition, the average American discards 4.6 pounds of garbage every day. This garbage, the solid waste stream, goes mostly to landfills where it’s compacted and buried. As the waste stream continues to grow, so will pressure on our landfills, and our resources and environment will suffer.
At some point there will be nowhere else to keep our garbage. Here is a list of specific items and the pressure they cause on our landfills –
• banana – 3 to 4 weeks
• paper bag – 1 month
• cotton rag – 5 months
• wool sock – 1 year
• cigarette butt – 2 to 5 years
• leather boot – 40 to 50 years
• rubber sole (of a boot) – 50 to 80 years
• tin can (soup or vegetable can) – 80 to 100 years
• aluminum can (soda pop can) – 200 to 500 years
• plastic 6-pack rings – 450 years
• plastic jug – 1 million years
• Styrofoam cup – unknown? forever?
• glass bottle – unknown? forever?
There are 309,533,720 people living in the United States, a little over 800,000 of which live in the Omaha-metro area. If half of the people in Omaha discarded 1 tin can per day in the garbage that is 400,000 tin cans per day and 146,000,000 cans per year sitting in a local landfill. And at a decomposition rate of 100 years… that’s a lot of garbage.
Your recycling effort can start with even that one tin can per day. When you consider how many recyclable items you throw out each day, you can truly understand the personal impact you can have on changing the world by just recycling!