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The Basics of Recycling
Wednesday, September 16, 2009 • Posted September 15, 2009 10:00 PM

We have had a lot of articles in the paper about recycling over the past several months and years. I would like to get back to the basics today.

What is recycling? Recycling is processing an item into a new item either identical to the first item or as a completely new item. As an example aluminum cans may be recycled into new aluminum cans or into siding materials for a residence. Recycling differs from re-use, which is to use the item in its original form for another use or the same use. A clothing item taken to Goodwill Industries or the Salvation Army may be purchased by another person to wear as clothing.

Recycling is a way of turning old stuff into new stuff, or changing used household materials we throw away into new product we buy and use. Thing we consider trash can be reprocessed into new products and used again: plastic bottles, newspapers, soft drink cans, jelly jars, and many more.

Recycling is collecting, processing, marketing, and using these materials. Texans of all ages may recycle; it helps clean up the environment and saves energy and valuable natural resources.

Talkin' trash: Did you know that Texans throw away enough trash each year to fill the Astrodome every two weeks? When you throw out your trash, do you ever stop to think who will take care of it or where it goes? Since we don't see piles of paper, glass, cans, or plastic outside our front doors, most of us never have to worry about how to get rid of the items we no long want or need. Every day Americans throw out an average of 5.5 pounds per day. The United States, with only five percent of the world's population, generates 50% of the world's waste.

Most of the trash gets hauled to a sanitary landfill. The trash in a landfill lasts a long time. Garbologists study landfills by drilling core samples. Landfill excavations have discovered 35-year-old newspapers, you can still read. Even after twenty years, an ear of corn and a hot dog are easily identifiable.

Why recycle? Most people agree that conserving natural resources, energy, and our land is the right thing to do--and recycling saves all of these! Much more of our household garbage could be recycled. Well-run city recycling programs can keep as much as 35% of residential waste away from disposal. However, recycling more depends on consumers willing to participate in recycling programs.

What can you recycle? Each community determines what items they will take in their recycling program based on the markets for the material. The Blanco County Recycling Center on Jones Road accepts glass, aluminum and tin cans, certain plastics, newspapers and magazines and cardboard boxes, scrap metal and some oils. Batteries of all sizes, including AA and AAA can be taken to Napa. There is a box at the Blanco Library for used computer ink cartridges or they can be taken to BISD Middle School science department.

Even grass and tree limbs can be recycled through the process of composting.

How to prepare items for recycling: Sort materials, rinse and drain containers, and store in a safe, dry place. It's easy. With a little practice, it takes less than five minutes a day. Sort your materials and rinse any leftover contents from containers so your items won't begin to smell bad or attract ants and bees.

Texas Recycle Day is November 15, 2009

We will have information for disposal of Household Hazardous Waste, such as tires, chemicals and electronic items in our next article.

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