I have been an advocate of recycling for most of my life – having grown up in Canada where it is simply a way of life. There was never a question of throwing out a beer bottle in the trash because we had paid a deposit on its use (10 cents a bottle) which you got back when you returned it to a recycling depot. Homeless people collected cans and bottles because they could be turned in for cash.
When I first moved to Florida 16 years ago, I remember calling the Garbage utilities and asking why the county did not have a solid recycling program – especially for glass. “Why we dispose of our garbage in a much cleaner way than recycling, ma’am” she started, “we incinerate it!” I was surprised by the response but took slight solace in the fact that it seemed that at least recycling had been considered.
Today, every business wants to appear earth-friendly and conservation conscious.
The “Green” movement has done much to encourage recycling, but I am still amazed at the wild consumerism we enjoy – even in times of conservative spending. All one needs to do is to visit a thrift shop and a Wal-Mart on the same day to see just how much “stuff” feeds our consumer society. Instead of reusing, we buy. Instead of recycling we toss. Instead of buying used, we buy new. Second hand stores nationwide feature working used items, yet we often prefer to buy new and unused. I wonder where all this stuff will end up.
I was reminded of the disposable mindset many of us have when I my printer broke down last week – it would scan fine, but just wouldn’t print. When I mentioned this to a friend and noted that the printer was about 7 years old, she told me to toss the printer as it had outlasted its useful life. “In fact, I’m lucky if I get two years out of my printers” she added. Instead of prematurely retiring the errant printer, I called my brother who stepped me through clearing out the software print spooler. The printer responded and I saved at least 10 pounds of trash going to the landfill.
Here’s a few ideas to become a “greener” person – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day:
- Use both sides of a sheet of paper – and create a recycle bin of one-side used paper;
- Collect paper waste (newspaper, bulk paper, envelopes, cardboard, etc.) and take to a recycling center
- Save clean glass jars and take to your local elementary school art class (to use while painting)
- Use old towels to wash your car or in the garage as shop towels
- Use the cardboard inserts from toilet paper rolls (cut in thirds) to keep soil intact for growing seedlings
- Compost vegetable waste in a backyard container for later spreading on plants
- Use discarded coffee grounds to enrich garden soil
- Ask for paper bags instead of plastic at your grocery, then use them to store waste headed for the compost. (Toss the bag and waste daily onto the compost heap)
Wishing you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!