Earth Saving News > November 10, 2009

The three green ‘Rs’ explained.

We all know what they are: Reduce. Reuse. and Recycle. But we often don’t understand the good it can do when we all make an effort to follow them. In honor of America Recycles Day on November 15th, we encourage you to learn more about recycling initiatives in your community, help educate your friends, and even reach out to your governmental representatives to take a stance on recycling where you live.

Reducing your impact is one of the biggest changes we can make in our daily lives to better the planet. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), each American produces 4.6 pounds of trash every day -- not including corporate or industry waste. Last year, Americans trashed more than 180 billion tons of recyclable materials like newspapers and aluminum cans. That equals $6.4 billion dollars, 540 billion cubic yards of landfill space and $12 billion in lost energy! And when we get together in masses, we create and leave behind more waste than can be handled by community clean ups.

The EPA also estimates that 66 percent of the materials we trash every day could be recycled, but only about 25 percent is actually is being recycled. Recycling even 35 percent of our trash would help reduce global warming emissions as much as taking 36 million cars off the road!

Reusing items is an important middle link in the Reduce-Reuse-Recycle chain. Before you recycle something, make sure you reuse it as much as you can. If you forget to bring your reusable shopping bag to the grocery store (it happens to all of us), those plastic bags can be used over and over again: to clean up after your pet; to carry your lunch to work; for storing and protecting holiday decorations; as packing material instead of Styrofoam peanuts, and more.

Recycling plastics, paper, aluminum, and metals properly is a surefire way to reduce your environmental impact. While community programs may vary, the materials most widely accepted include: aluminum cans; glass bottles; paper (newspaper, catalogues, magazines, etc.); plastic (normally marked with a #1 or #2 on the bottom, sometimes all plastics 1-7 are accepted); steel cans; and other waste like foil and cardboard.

The best way to find out what’s acceptable in your area is to contact your collection company or local municipality. Ask to take a tour of their recycling facility to see firsthand how they handle your recycling – this is a great educational opportunity for kids, too. No matter what you need to recycle, check out this great resource from Earth911 – just enter the item and your zip code, and it will tell you what to do! Or visit EarthShare member group, Keep America Beautiful. They’ve been working since 1953 to make sure citizens, businesses and government find solutions to help prevent litter, reduce waste, and beautify our communities.

Apply the three ‘Rs’ to your holiday season.

Recycle-binWe understand: we’re all really busy around the holiday season with office parties, family events, and catching up with friends. But it’s definitely not the time to forget about your environmental impact. Here are three holiday green tips that are so simple you won’t believe how easy it is to make a difference:

  • Reduce your waste by buying only what you need. Instead of buying plastic plates and cups for parties, use spare dishes that can be washed in the dishwasher. Or buy biodegradable paper plates that can be composted.
  • Reuse last year’s holiday decorations and party wear. Holiday decorations never go out of style and can be reused year after year if you store them properly. And instead of buying new holiday party clothes, try switching up last year’s outfit by changing the hemline and adding a nice sweater or wrap. For the guys, just pair your suit with a different shirt and tie, or wear it with a pullover sweater underneath -- no one will know you’re an outfit repeater.
  • Recycle as much as possible. Save boxes and wrapping and tissue paper, and even those unwanted presents. Store these items in waterproof containers and use them throughout the year as the need arises.

Want more ideas? Click here for EarthShare’s Holiday Green Guide!

Digital transition = E-Waste Crisis?

TelevisionThis past June, television stations across the country shut down their analog signals and went digital. What was a major advancement for communications industry is now being seen as a major problem for the environment.

Almost 24 million televisions were thrown out last year, with just 18% of them recycled. Nearly all of the recycled televisions were shipped to poorer countries where they will be used again…or just thrown away. Residents in the United Kingdom are experiencing the impact of the digital transition as well, and the country has seen a 70% increase in trashed televisions.

What does this mean for the environment? Each television is made of plastics, metals, chemicals, wires and more. If they’re not disposed of properly, they could sit in landfills for years and become a serious threat to the environment. The solution? Recycle your old television - here's some how-to help from our friends at Earth911.

If you have other common household electronics that need to be recycled, such as cell phones, monitors, cameras and more, check out EarthShare’s partner, They’re an e-waste management company that takes old electronics and properly recycles them. Even better – if there’s some value attached to your recyclable item, 100% of that value will be donated to EarthShare when you recycle your electronics online here! Check here for the full list of accepted electronic items.

Once you’ve completed MyBoneyard’s online form, they’ll tell you the estimated value of your electronic recyclables and e-mail you a shipping label. Send it in and they’ll take care of the rest!

Interested in holding group recycling drive to benefit EarthShare in honor of America Recycles Day? You can also use Boneyard for that! Learn more or contact us.


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Thanks, Sasha! Keep your feedback coming, we love to hear from you.



sasha grey

great article! :)

keep it green!

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