Thursday, November 15, 2007

recycle now!

Today is America Recycles Day, so I thought I'd start by going on a bit about how ridiculous I think it is that people don't recycle more. And then I'll give you some fun stuff to listen to! First things first: The Gotham Gazette just published a very informative article on the state of waste in New York City and the U.S. as a whole—and some of the recycling stats are crazy. It made me want to look a little deeper into the issue. Here's what I found:

¤ 50 billion bottles of water are sold in the U.S. every year. That's 167 for every man, woman, and child in America! When you think about the fact that most municipal water is clean and essentially free, this kind of stat boggles the mind. (Especially when you also know that some bottled water is just tap water in fancy packaging!)

¤ Only a quarter of those 50 billion water bottles are recycled, meaning that some 37.5 billion water bottles end up—needlessly—in landfills, where they will stay unchanged for the next million years at least. By the way, it takes about 17 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic used to make all the water bottles consumed in the U.S. each year. And the manufacturing of every ton of that plastic belches up 3 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Yum!

¤ If half of all New Yorkers would simply recycle rather than discard their junk mail, they could prevent 500,000 tons of paper waste garbage each year.

¤ In New York City, only about 50 percent of the recyclables that we get rid of are actually recycled. This is insane to me! Especially since if you live in an apartment building, where recyclables are picked up like clockwork every week, it takes almost zero effort to recycle. In more rural areas, where you might have to drive to a recycling center, I would offer this advice: Just get off your you know what and DO IT! You're already polluting the environment by having a car; you might as well pay back a little by making those wheels zoom you to the local recycling location once a month or so. (Of course, for financial reasons, not all towns recycle all materials; be sure to get the facts on what can and can't be salvaged before you dump your recyclables!)

Ultimately, recycling is only one of the three R's—which by now you should know by heart: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle. To really change the way you have an impact on our environment, you need to do all three. Reducing your use of "stuff" is of course the best conservation method of all—the fewer things we consume, the less of it will get produced, and the less pollution will be made in manufacturing. My favorite trick (though it's easy to lapse on if you don't plan ahead): bring your own bags to the grocery store. Heck, Whole Foods even made it fashionable (although I prefer my Strand bag, personally)! Another easy tip: Now that the holiday catalogue season is upon us, make a few 5-minute phone calls to get companies to stop sending you tons of catalogues and other junk mail (I'm talking to you, Capital One)! Reusing the things we do buy also prevents more "stuff" from being sold and manufactured. Just think: if all New Yorkers would refill the water bottle they puchased while walking through Central Park just three times, they could prevent 13,260 tons of plastic from ending up in a landfill. As for Recycling, it's all about attitude. You can sit around and do nothing, or you can take simple but important actions to help fix the sorry state of affairs our planet is in. What's your choice?

Okay, now for the fun—and a rewind to the happenin' year of 1991. I kind of can't believe this CD still works - it's probably one of the oldest dics I own! Anyway, first up is a stern warning from one of the queens of recycling, my girl Bette Midler (don't tempt her, man—you know she'll get on your ass if you don't do what she says!). And second is what I was hoping so dearly I could find on YouTube (it had a ridiculous video with it back in the day)...alas, no dice. The song itself is still pretty sweet, though...I mean, dude: Tone Loc is on there! And Ozzy!

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