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Find out what materials you can recycle in your community. If it’s not enough, start something!

16 November 2009 No Comment

Level: Community — Pillar: Environmental Sustainability

This week’s featured story came in from Washington, DC:

On more than one occasion, as I am meticulously rinsing out a glass jar and placing it in a recycling bin I’ve wondered: does this really make a difference?

I know that recycling is one of the easiest ways that as an individual I can help slow climate change and global warming. And I realize that by recycling at home, I can help significantly lower carbon emissions associated with extracting virgin materials, manufacturing products and waste disposal. (The National Recycling Coalition has made this fun Recycling Calculator that calculates your recycling’s impact. I learned that by recycling a 3 foot high stack of newspapers I can save one tree.) What I want to be assured of is that when I put my newspapers and plastic water bottles in the appropriate bins they are actually getting recycled.

Unfortunately, a recent article in the Washington, DC City Paper highlighted Washington’s dismal recycling record. Although DC law requires recycling at all city buildings only 24 percent of the trash stream in the District is recycled. One of the many reasons for this is that the recyclables that I, and many other DC residents, meticulously separate end up in the same dump trucks and land fills as the rest of our trash.

There are three parts to the recycling process; each essential to making the system work: collection, manufacturing and buying. It is our responsibility as concerned citizens to ensure that each stage in the process is completed. This means not only knowing what materials I can recycle in my community but also ensuring that my elected officials enforce recycling policies and hold companies accountable for doing so.

November 15 is America Recycles Day. The purpose of America Recycles Day is to continue to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling and encourage more people to join the movement toward creating a better natural environment. I plan to lead by example in my neighborhood by recycling, and by ensuring that this recycling makes a difference. Please join me by doing the same in your neighborhood!

Alicia Simoni
Washington, DC

Use the comment section below to share about recycling resources in your community.

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