Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Opinions

February 11, 2014

Your Opinion: February 12, 2014

AMERICUS — Why we need to recycle

Recently, the City of Americus moved the recycle bins from the Lowes parking lot to a vacant lot next to the Dollar General on Highway 30. Most people may not even have been aware of this move or the fact that it is now the third location in about three or four years. Lowe’s stepped in when Wal-Mart got tired of all the extra trash that accumulated in the area of the bins. Now Lowes is tired of the mess. Thanks to Major Blount and Donnie McCrary I found the new temporary location and was able to keep recyling.

One of my grandsons helped me take our recyclables to this new location this past week. As we were leaving the lot I noticed an empty plastic bottle on the side of the road by the National Guard Armory. At the same time, Brandon asked me, “Why do we need to recycle anyway?”

As I told him the importance of recycling it dawned on me why he would ask this question. You see we haven’t really done anything to show that we are truly committed to developing a long lasting and sustainable recycling program in this community. Those bins that get moved around every couple years, some of which are poorly marked, are only designed to collect newspaper, magazines, plastic bottles and cans. I would estimate through this effort we only collect about one percent of our recyclables in this community. I might be wrong, but certainly no more than 5%.

If you don’t believe me think about that estimate the next time you go to youth sporting event either at one of the schools or out at the ball fields. Look at all the plastic bottles that are filling up those trash cans at every event. Still struggling with that estimate? Go into ten businesses and ask if they recycle and what have they done to reduce their waste. Probably about nine out of ten will look at you like you’re crazy. Now, go on Facebook or just ask your friends in the neighborhood to see how many families that you know recycle. By now, your friends are wondering why you even care.

So, at this point you might want a few facts provided by dosomething.org. On average, each of us generates about 4 pounds of trash every day, comparable to about 1.5 tons annually. Using Wikipedia data, we had a population of 17,041 in 2010. Based on the numbers provided from dosomething.org that comes up to about 25,561.5 tons of trash annually. Now, these are just rough numbers, but what if I told you we could take actions to reduce the amount of trash we dump in our landfill by as much as 70%?

It begins with not only getting everyone to recycle, but also to expanding the materials that we recycle. As I noted previously, we only recycle newspaper, magazines, plastic bottles and cans. Glass is a one of the heaviest recyclables. Yet, we don’t offer any collection for glass. I would agree that under the current way we manage our recyclables glass collection could add to the problems that we already have.

How about those Christmas trees? Many of us like a real tree, but every year we see many of them put to the side of the road with household trash pick-up even though the city has a chipper program. But wait there’s more. If we are recycling newspapers why aren’t we recycling cardboard? Instead, of throwing your shopping bags away do you know you can recycle them? This is just scratching the surface, but I think you get the picture.

I appreciate the efforts of those involved in our current program, but we can do better. We need to ensure that everyone is recycling and that resources are available to help support these efforts. This includes initiating recycling programs in our schools, at our parks and local businesses. We can do better. The next time you toss out a plastic bottle realize that Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour.

We need to introduce a single-stream recycling approach in this community. This is where you put your recyclables in one hobo or take it to one source and then it is sorted at the collection site. According to the Waste Management Company, this approach, when implemented properly, can help a community increase recycling volumes by an average of 40%.

So, why do we need to recycle? Well Brandon, if we were able to implement an extensive recycling program in Americus like what I just I discussed, than fifty years from now when you’re a grandparent the city could have kept approximately 890,000 tons trash from ever reaching our landfill over those fifty years.

George Laurin

Americus

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