It seems that almost everything in our society is “disposable” these days, so what happens when it’s time to “dispose” of what we no longer need or want. Too often, we toss it in the trash, without a thought of where it will go from there. The United States is the #1 trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. This means that while we make up only 5% of the world’s people, we generate 40% of the world’s waste. In fact, each year we discard 16,000,000,000 diapers, 1,600,000,000 pens, 2,000,000,000 razor blades, 220,000,000 car tires, and enough aluminum to rebuild the US commercial air fleet four times over – and that’s just a fraction of what we throw away. Even the way we describe what we do with our “trash” is misleading and irresponsible. Everything we “throw away” is still somewhere – in a landfill, on a garbage barge, or on it’s way to an incinerator where it will take a new form as carbon emitted into the atmosphere. But there is a better, more environmentally sensitive and more economically responsible way. RECYCLING.
On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill, and $65 to $75 to incinerate it. Recycling reduces our reliance on landfills and incinerators. It protects our health and environment when harmful substances are removed from the waste stream. And, it conserves our natural resources because it reduces the need for raw materials. But, this is not breaking news! Recycling is a little like eating more veggies or exercising regularly, we all know we should do it, but the gap between knowing and acting can sometimes be vast, even when we have the best intentions.
What’s Your Recycling IQ
The more we know about recycling, the easier it is to get onboard and encourage recycling efforts at home and in our communities. Test your recycling prowess by completing the following quiz. Pass it on and see how you stack up among your family members, friends and colleagues.
1. If the US recycling levels can reach 75% it will be the environmental benefit of removing ________ cars from the road each year and it will generate 1.5 million new jobs.
a. 2 million b. 25 million c. 50 million d. 100 million
2. Each person creates about _____ tons of solid waste every year.
a. 1.5 b. 3.8 c. 4.7 d. 8.2
3. Approximately _______ percent of trash thrown away today could be recycled.
a. 30 percent b. 45 percent c. 60 percent d. 75 percent
4. How long does glass take to decompose in a landfill?
a. 25 years b. 150 years c. 1,500 years d. 4,000 years
5. If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about ______ million trees each year.
a. 4 b. 17 c. 25 d. 100
6. The 36 billion aluminum cans landfilled last year had a scrap value of more than $_______ million.
a. 35 b. 100 c. 250 d. 600
7. Recycling 1 ton of cardboard saves ______ gallons of oil.
a. 20 b. 46 c. 82 d. 100
8. Recycling aluminum cans saves _____% of the energy used to make aluminum cans from new material.
a. 40% b. 52% c. 75% d. 95%
9. Americans use _____ plastic bottles every hour.
a. 1.3 b. 2.5 c. 4.7 d. 8.6
10. Recycling 100 cans could light your bedroom for ________ whole weeks.
a. two b. four c. six d. ten
To find a recycling center in your area, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality provides a downloadable PDF version of the Mississippi Recycling Directory. Visit www.deq.state.ms.us/…/Recycling_StatewideRecyclingDirectory/.
Rate your response. 10 correct – Your are a recycling genius! 7 – 9 correct – Great job. You know a great deal about recycling. 4 – 6 correct – Not bad. You are getting there. 1 – 3 correct – Oops. Looks like you have more to learn. For more about recycling a great place to start is www.epa.gov/recycle/recycle.html.