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At IREP, I Recycle Everything Possible to maximize space, while minimizing the waste. We value recycling, supporting our local community, and helping people that share this world. We want to use this day to talk about the important recycling tips, researched knowledge, and offer DIY advice. Let’s turn this Earth Day into something celebrated year round!

recycling defined

Why it’s important to recycle

It’s not about the present, as much as looking to the future. We must recycle now to set a precedent. That way we can provide younger generations a better place to live. No one says it’s easy. It takes general and local research. Each city tells you what they consider recyclable. You put in the work to find out what’s acceptable. For a deeper dive for Austin, TX, read our “To be, or Not to be Recycled? Right & Useful Ways” blog.

It’ may be easier to throw something away, but have you seen a landfill? If everyone tossed everything in the landfill, we would fill the Earth a lot faster. We would have trash mountains competing with natural mountains to see which is higher. Recycling limits waste. There are many ways to “reduce, reuse, and repurpose” items. You can even make it fun for kids to learn and get in the habit. That could cause them to pass the knowledge down for years to come.

Creating more waste means we have to use incinerators to burn and compact it into ashes to save space. More nonrenewable fossil fuels usage takes place to power these incinerators. Recycling saves energy. Saving energy can help prevent the looming energy crisis, which has recently been a major concern here in the state of Texas. If our state wants on it’s own grid, we as individuals must work harder to conserve waste to provide ourselves with more power. It also will help control gas prices.

Machines certainly play a major role in the recycling process, but humans are very much involved. People have to be there each step of the way to make sure machines don’t get clogged. If someone doesn’t recycle properly, then the whole system will have to shut down for hours in order to fix the issue. Workers separate items, as well as operate and maintain the equipment. Recycling creates jobs. When jobs are created, people have work in order to provide for their livelihoods.. It takes more workers to recycle than it does in the landfill.

Wasting items and burning the waste both create enormous amounts of air, water and land pollution. You’ve heard about the trash island that floats in the ocean, right? Recycling reduces pollution. By making that reduction, we are able to decrease the effects of global warming. By doing ALL of these things, we can keep the environment clean. It’s fairly simple, but again, not easy. Let’s give the land back to nature, and promote international socio-political peace.

This all also means buying less as citizens. If you use lots of bottles, but also do gardening, then you don’t need to buy a bunch of small pots for herbs. Take your bottles and recycle them by turning them into pots to grow plants. Many other items and ways can prove that recycling can protect your household economy. You can also get cans and turn them into bird feeders to bring color, song, and joy to your backyard.

recycled cans DIY bird feeders

Research behind recycling

At IREP, we have a program in our mission to recycle everything possible. Read our blog about EnviroSustain. This also moves us to support the City of Austin’s strategic plan in achieving zero waste. Some researched knowledge nuggets about recycling are below.

State/Local Level

In 2005, the City of Austin, Texas, signed the Urban Environmental Accords (PDF) which committed the city to achieve zero waste by 2040. In 2009, the city adopted the first Zero Waste Strategic Plan (PDF) in the state of Texas. The Zero Waste Strategic Plan indicated that the value of materials sent to landfill and lost to the local economy was over $40 million annually. We can help reach the goal and set a great example.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) found the recycling of municipal solid waste creates economic benefits for the Texas economy, with more than 17,000 person years of direct, indirect, and induced employment supported during 2015. The overall impact of recycling MSW on the Texas economy exceeded $3.3 billion. We can make that go up.

In 2019 the TCEQ also found that Texas has a landfill reserve capacity of 53 years. That means is we stay on the same track we are now, your kids, or children you know, will see that capacity reached early in their lifetime. That percentage can increase the more we recycle. Do you really want to make it their problem? Or do you think they have better things to focus on than sorting through our waste issues?

National Level

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the annual amount of furnishings taken to a landfill rose from 7.6 million tons in 2005 to 9.69 million tons in 2015, and continues to accelerate at an alarming rate.

The data on the recovery of ferrous metals  estimates metals from shredded appliances to be 3.1 million tons in 2018, leaving 2.1 million tons of appliances to be landfilled. If we recycle one aluminum can, we save enough energy to run the TV for 3 hours. Depending on your usage, of course.

In 2003,130 million scrap tires were used as fuel (about 45% of all generated) — up from 25.9 million (10.7% of all generated) in 1991. Advantages to using tires as fuel include: produce the same amount of energy as oil and 25% more than coal, ash residues may contain a lower heavy metals content than some coals, and it results in lower NOx emissions when compared to many US coals, particularly the high-sulfur ones. Following this can give us more ways to create new energy in place of fossil fuels.

If the US cuts 40 million newspapers, and they all get thrown into the landfill, then that is approximately half a million trees destroyed only to be wasted. Paper piling up can also emit toxic gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, which reduces your quality of air. Remember, you can’t recycle shredded paper, but paper in any form can be composted.

According to the Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study, in a single year, recycling created 757,000 jobs, which account for $36.6 billion in wages. For every 1000 tons of waste recycled, 1.57 jobs are created, and $76,000 wages are made. Why not increase jobs on a national scale?

recycling importance

DIY advice for recycling

One of the best and easiest ways to recycle is to make it fun for the whole family. Do crafts at home. It can be exciting for children, and at the same time they can learn the value in recycling through creative means. Below are ideas on recycling various items, as well as links to other articles describing hundreds of projects to satisfy your family.

Bottles Plastic bottles can be used for planting, ornaments, décor, piggy banks, and much more. Glass bottles can be used the same, but a really cool idea is turning them into torches. You never know when you may lose power for days. Then, you won’t have to worry about batteries for lights. If we can create more hemp plastics, that will save us so many more problems with disposing.

recycled wine bottles as torches

Keys – Old keys can be used as ornaments, necklaces, wind chimes, or even markers in your garden. Perhaps it’s your garden created from bottles. It’s an interesting usage that requires some painting beforehand to let it stand out. Perfect project for a kid while the adults do the hard work.

recycled keys as garden markers

Trampoline – If you’ve had enough of your trampoline, instead of taking it apart and disposing of it, it can be turned into a dog kennel, or a chicken coop. A fantastic idea would be making a swing for your patio, or back yard. Who can resist hammock type resting?

recycling trampoline as a swing

Cardboard rolls – These are great for holiday crafts. You can make ornaments, jewelry, or characters to fit an occasion. If you use other compostable materials, you will be able to compost the whole project when needed. That way you save waste completely.

recycling paper rolls DIY craft

Keurig cups – We use so many of these nowadays. If you haven’t bought reusable cups, or not able to do that at the office, then you can save the cups and use them as small planters (coffee grounds are great in soil too0! Use them to hold small items as you craft up things, or color them and put them in the toy room for kids to use as building blocks. If you play card games, they can lead a helping hand there too.

recycled Keurig cups

There are several articles that provide options for fifteen, hundreds, or thousands of recycled DIY projects for you to start implementing this weekend! We may not be able to eliminate all waste, but we can at least try, or lengthen the amount of years until we reach landfill capacity. The less capacity, the more we will pollute and open up landfills to take up much more space. Nature will always find a way to survive. Even if that means eliminating the source of the problem. Let’s save the Earth, and ourselves.

Resources

Importance of Recycling and Why Should We Recycle

How Paper is Recycled: Step-by-Step Process (and Benefits Too)

https://www.epa.gov/recycle

https://www.epa.gov/transforming-waste-tool/zero-waste-case-study-austin

https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/durable-goods-product-specific-data

https://www.britannica.com/science/recycling

https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/tires/web/html/tdf.html#:~:text=There%20are%20several%20advantages%20to,particularly%20the%20high%2Dsulfur%20coals.

http://www.austintexas.gov/department/austin-resource-recovery