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Recycling In The Home Matters A Lot!
As important as recycling is, it's just about the last thing we should do with our garbage. First, we need to concentrate on reducing the amount of waste we create, by shopping more carefully and asking stores and manufacturers to be more responsible about how they package products. Next, we should reuse products and packaging whenever possible. Finally, we can recycle whatever is left.

To their credit, manufacturers have made steady progress in reducing the amount of material going into certain types of packaging (such as plastic milk jugs). Unfortunately, many types of packaging are still designed for disposal, rather than easy reuse or recycling. Until products and packaging are redesigned, we will continue to be heavily reliant on landfills for waste disposal. In the future, however, we may be mining those same landfills for the valuable materials they contain. (So let's keep up our concentrating and collection work.)

Incineration, or what is sometimes euphemistically called "waste-to-energy" or "resource recovery," is not a good alternative to waste reduction. Incinerators around the country, even with the best pollution control technologies, have proved to be economic and environmental failures.

Be patient with your local recycling companies; they often face poor or wildly fluctuating markets for materials like newsprint. In time, paper mills will increase their capacity to use old newsprint, and market prices will improve.

America spent several decades earning the reputation of the "disposable society." It will take at least a few more to become an environmentally responsible one. Our focus, then, should not be to maximize recycling or reduce landfill use, but rather to establish the infrastructure, habits, and political will to implement the efficient and sustainable use of all resources.

Further Information
You should be able to get information about recycling in your area from your city or county sanitation department. Your state government has probably published some educational materials and maybe even a statewide directory of recycling markets. See also:





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This page was last modified on April 06, 2012

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