Recycling: Last but Not Least

As you may have heard, changes in the global recycling market are impacting recycling in Omaha.  This may result in you paying more for recycling, and that creates more questions.

Should you stop recycling? No.  Recycling is an important step in recovering resources and should be continued.  Nobody was ready for China’s decision, but we will continue to recycle and hopefully find better processes.

Recycling properly ensures those items end up as something else, and not in the landfill.  For on campus recycling information please read this and go here.  For questions about recycling at home visit Keep Omaha Beautiful’s Omaha Recycles Right, and make sure you don’t “wish-cycle”.

Don’t forget that recycling is the last option.  Reduce and Reuse come first, and the order is important.

Reducing use is best for the environment, your pocketbook, and your health.  If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.  All items have to be dealt with eventually, so less stuff means less waste.

When you do buy, make it reusable.  You don’t have to overhaul your life, things like coffee in a mug, taking your own shopping bag, or bringing your lunch in a container with utensils.  People often miss the impact because it seems small, but it adds up!

Recycling is the last resort before sending things to the landfill—and a good option, as it uses less new resources (don’t have to mine the aluminum, drill for crude oil) but reusing and reducing are a lot better.  Those options may use energy or water, but it pales in comparison to the energy and water used in new manufacturing and transportation.

When making purchasing decisions, try to avoid plastic.  Production uses crude oil and other chemicals leading to pollution, which has a negative impact on health including reproductive issues, obesity, cancer, lung diseases and endocrine issues.  Research shows long term effects in children when they are exposed to this pollution.  These chemicals leach into the liquid and food in the plastic container, especially when heated (everything from your microwavable lunch to the bottled beverage that got hot during shipping).  Plastic has its place (nobody is advocating going back to reusable syringes!) but there are lots of other, better options–especially when it comes to personal use.

The World War II adage still applies: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

 

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