Conservation Station: Back to School: Recycling101

By Stacy Martin on August 25, 2012 from Conservation Station via

I can’t believe it’s already time for school to start!  Every Fall I seem to say this, but it just seems like every year I’m never prepared to face reality that the Summer is over.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Fall, but I also love slow transitions between seasons.  The first day of school is like a slap in the face – one day your swimming and enjoying the sun and the very next day your trying desperately to wake up your kids and get them ready for school in a timely manner.  The slow leisurely pace is suddenly thrust into overdrive and everyone is forced to adapt to a new schedule because it’s a new school year. And as much as I hate this slap in the face, it’s also very awakening because it’s the start of a whole new agenda.  We set goals for the school year, start new activities, interests or classes, and plan new projects or pledge to finish old ones.  If you don’t have kids, then take advantage of this season change anyway start to start fresh!
In a previous blog I discussed how important it was to learn something new every day, but sometimes this concept gets lost during the summer.  Back-to-school time restores that spirit of learning no matter your age.  So let’s get back to the basics, the 3 “R’s” if you will.  Many of you are now reciting what we remember as our 3 “R’s” – reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic.  But this generation doesn’t automatically think of those 3 words when they hear someone make reference to the 3 “R’s” (nor do I think they would even know what “arithmetic” means).  No, today’s generation would recite the 3 “R’s” as REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!  As old as that makes me feel I still love it that this generation is learning to be environmentally conscious.  So back-to-school time to learn these 3 “R’s”!
REDUCE:     The best way to help the environment is to REDUCE the amount of waste you produce.  There are several ways to do this:
  • Buy products that don't have a lot of packaging.Some products are wrapped in many layers of plastic and paperboard even though they don't need to be. You can also look for things that are packed in materials that don't require a lot of energy or resources to produce. Some products will put that information right on their labels.
  • Borrow and share with friends and neighbors.  Instead of buying something you're not going to use very often, see if you can borrow it from someone you know.  Or if you own such an item let friends and neighbors know you are willing to share anytime.
  • Reduce automobile usage.  Cars use up energy and cause pollution. Some ways to reduce the environmental damage caused by cars include carpooling with friends, walking, taking the bus, or riding your bike instead of driving.
  • Compost.  If you don’t already, start a compost bin (review my previous blog on composting for more information). Some people set aside a place in their yard where they can dispose of certain food and plant materials. Over time, the materials break down through a natural process called decomposition. The compost is good for the soil in your yard and means that less garbage will go to the landfill.
  • Reduce wasted through technology – your computer! Many newspapers and magazines are online now. Instead of buying the paper versions, you can find them on the Internet. Also remember that you should print out only what you need and use both sides of the paper. Everything you print that you don't really need is a waste of paper.
  • Reduce energy use.  Save energy by turning off lights that you are not using.
  • Reduce water use.  Save water by turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth.
  • Reducing junk mail = reducing waste.  Many people receive a large amount of advertisements and other unwanted junk mail.  You can stop the mailings and reduce waste by writing to the following address and requesting that they take your name off of their distribution list:
Direct Marketing Association Mail Preference Service
P.O. Box 9008
Farmingdale, NY 11735-9008
REUSE:  Be creative!  Instead of throwing things away, try to find ways to use them again.  For example:
  • Use reusable shopping bags.  Bring reusable bags with you to the store (it’s helpful to keep them in your car so they are always on hand).  Using these cloth bags again and again will reduce the amount of paper or plastic bags wasted every year. You'll be saving some trees too!
  • Reuse plastic containers and lunch bags.  Plastic containers and reusable lunch bags are great ways to take your lunch to school without creating waste.
  • Be creative.  Coffee cans, shoe boxes, margarine containers, and other types of containers people throw away can be used to store things from nails in your workshop to cookie containers for gifts during the holidays.  Make each container a project, whether something useful or an arts and crafts project for your child. Use your imagination!  Don’t think you’ll use it, ask your churches Sunday school classes or local preschool or daycare – maybe your fun containers can be turned into their projects.
  • Donate or sell.  Don't throw out clothes, toys, furniture, and other things that you don't want anymore. Somebody else can probably use them. You can bring them to a center that collects donations (i.e. The Clarksburg Mission, Goodwill, HOPE Domestic Violence Shelter) give them to friends, or even have a yard sale.
  • Use plates and silverware.  Don’t buy paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils.  Instead use silverware and dishes and reusable coffee cups or reusable tumblers.
  • Use reusable food containers.  Store food in reusable plastic containers (maybe those old margarine tubs, Pringles cans, Ricotta tubs).
RECYCLE:   Most of the things we use every day, such as plastic bags, soda cans, and milk cartons, are made out of materials that can be recycled. Recycling these items means they are put through a process that makes it possible to create new products out of the materials from the old ones.  In addition to recycling the things you buy, you can help the environment by buying products that contain recycled materials. Many things we buy such as paper towels, garbage bags, greeting cards, and toilet paper, will tell you on their labels if they are made from recycled materials.  Always opt to buy those products made from recycled material.
Make sure you have your RECYCLE BIN!!!!  Recycle at home and help Bridgeport win! Log your recycling efforts on  Take other items to recycle bins, such as your Ziploc ™ bags and plastic shopping bags to bins at the grocery store (Kroger and Target both have collection bins for plastic bags).  Whatever you recycle just remember, it's important to rinse out the items and sort your recyclables!
So start this new school year with a new objective!  Happy 2012-2013 school year and happy learning!

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