Reduce, reuse, recycle.
While this idea has been drilled into our heads since we were little, I still watch people throw paper in the garbage.
In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash, recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, which a 34.3 percent recycling rate. On average, Americans recycled and composted only 1.51 pounds of our individual waste generation of 4.40 pounds per person per day.
We as humans need to do better. 34.3 percent is too low. We are putting ourselves, as well as future generations, at risk. Recycling is easy, and if we take the short additional steps to recycle, we can help future generations.
Most people think that only paper and plastic can be recycled. But, in reality, everything from paper, plastic, metal and glass can, and should, be recycled. Larger items, such as furniture, electronic equipment, building material and vehicles can be recycled. Weird items, such as ink cartridges, athletic shoes, wine corks and crayons, can also be recycled.
After you take the steps to recycle more, try to be eco-friendly and buy products that have been made from recycled material. Reynolds makes tinfoil that is made from recycled tinfoil, reusable coffee cups stop the millions of paper or Styrofoam cups from being thrown out on a daily basis and even the bags you get from grocery stores can be reused. If they are not going to be reused, they can also usually be recycled at your local grocery store.
In the outdoors, you can recycle garden and kitchen waste in a compost area. Composting is the natural breakdown of organic matter to produce a crumbly, nutrient rich soil. This process is easy and can be done with any amount of space. Banana peels, paper napkins, wood chips, tea and potato peelings are just a few of the things that can be put in a composting bin. It only takes three months in a warm, moist environment for items to decompose.
Last, but not least, plant a tree. Planting trees means more wood and paper products that can be easily recycled. Trees are also renewable, biodegradable and recyclable.
While this all stops recyclable materials from going into landfills, it also helps aquatic animals from swallowing the trash in the ocean.
Our Office of Sustainability at the college is also dedicated to improving the world environment and developing a heightened awareness of environmental and technological developments. Often people walk by the office tabling in the Marano Campus Center and do not even look up. They are leading Oswego to reduce, reuse and recycle. They are spreading the important message in hope of trying to save our world and preserve it for many generations to come.
So the next time you go to throw something in the trash, stop and look at it. Is it paper or plastic? If this ends up in the ocean can it harm an animal? Can this be recycled?
That piece of paper you are about to throw in the trash can be recycled, so walk the extra two steps and help save the environment.