Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Attention Getting Question:
Did you know that the world makes about 2.4 trillion pounds of garbage every year-- the weight of about 7,000 Empire State Buildings? Where does all this waste come from; and where does it go?
Waste is anything we throw away or get rid of. Most countries used to have open dumps for trash, which were very bad for the environment. Now, developed countries use landfills, where trash is buried, or incinerators, where trash is burned. Recycling centers are also available. Unfortunately, we are running out of landfill space, incineration emits harmful gases into the air, and most people do not recycle items that are recyclable. What can you do to help?
You can help by learning about and practicing the three R's of waste management: Reduce, reuse, and recycle! To reduce is to cut down on the amount of waste that is made. We can do that by buying larger sizes of items which helps reduce packaging that will end up in the trash. One bottle of detergent creates less trash than three small ones. We can reduce the amount of water we use by turning water faucets off while we are brushing our teeth and replacing leaky faucets that are dripping wasted water. We can bring grocery bags back to the store to use again instead of getting new ones each time. Help your family be aware when they buy things and ask, “Will this end up in the trash? Do I really need a bag for this? How can I reduce waste?”
To reuse means to use something again, rather than throwing it away. Paper and envelopes can be reused as scrap paper for taking notes. Egg cartons, jars, and 2 liter bottles can be reused for storage or art projects. Use dishes that can be washed and reused rather than paper plates or plastic forks that are thrown away. Sell or give away unwanted items as donations to be reused. Did you know that you can even reuse food? We can reuse food by throwing biodegradable leftovers like banana peels, lettuce, and coffee grounds into a compost pile in our yard. A compost pile is a mixture of soil and decayed materials that can be used as fertilizer for plant growth. Use things as many ways as you can, and then try to recycle them if possible.
To recycle means to turn certain trash items back into the material they were made from and then use them to make new items. So, the soda can you recycled can come back as a baseball bat! Eighty percent of trash in the United States is recyclable glass, metal, paper, and plastic; yet, only 28% ever gets taken to recycle centers. What a waste! Don’t throw away glass, metal, paper, or plastic. Find out how to recycle in your area through your trash collector or local recycling center. You can even collect a little money at some recycle centers for bringing in your items. You can also recycle electronics like cell phones at certain places. When you recycle things, you save resources and reduce waste.
By not practicing the 3 r’s, reduce, reuse, and recycle, humans can harm and destroy animals and their habitats. For instance, when we do not reduce and recycle paper, we cause trees to be cut down, destroying forest habitats. When we litter, or do not dispose of waste properly, it can end up in the ocean. Plastic bags and bottles that could have been recycled end up in the ocean all the time, and, after many years of floating, they break down into small pieces that marine animals mistake for food. This type of pollution invades their homes and tricks them into choking on waste. Eventually, this affects humans who eat animals that are eating trash. Yuck!
You can protect wildlife and your environment from harm by practicing the 3r’s; reduce, reuse, and recycle. To reduce means to cut down on waste, to reuse means to use things over and over again before you discard them, and to recycle means to give glass, metal, paper, and plastic to a recycle center to be broken down and used to make new things. Talk to three people today about how they can help protect the environment by practicing the 3 r’s!