Recycle for personal, civic benefits

Published 3:45 am Sunday, February 17, 2013

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a slogan seen everywhere these days. Its origins are said to have come out of the original Earth Day back in 1970. I suppose growing up as a teen in the seventies, it’s one that has stuck with me throughout my adult life. The older I get the more the truth I find in it.

Moving homes after being in one for more than a decade taught me a good lesson about reducing. In my efforts to get my belongings to a manageable, movable quantity I had to take several truckloads of stuff to the city landfill. It’s amazing what we can accumulate in our closets, attics, garages and storage building over the years. I guess when you have the space, that thought of, “One day I might need this,” creeps in and up in the attic it goes. My New Year’s resolution is to stop doing that.

Fortunately for others, much of what we accumulated was good usable items, but the fact is we just didn’t need all that stuff. My spring-cleaning came early this year, but many will be practicing this ritual in the warmer days ahead. Garage and yard sales are always great ways to reuse those unneeded items, turning them into cash. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure as they say. This annual purging ritual is always good for the garage and the pocketbook. If you’re not feeling particularly entrepreneurial, there are a number of thrift stores in Brookhaven that will gladly accept your items, turning them into good works in our community.

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Finally, and the point of all this, is to recycle. Our city leaders in Brookhaven have taken proactive steps in recent months in working toward an exemplary recycling program for the city. Much of this has been spurred along by the efforts of aldermen David Phillips, Terry Bates and Shirley Estes. Beginning with accessible drop-off points at fire stations, the programs evolution into a curbside program while leaving the bulk depositories in place is admirable. Unfortunately, no new system is without challenges. At lease one of the bulk depositories came under abuse according to Phillips. Refuse other than recyclable materials was left strewn about, including animal carcasses. That unit, formerly located at the Central Fire Station, has been moved to the Willard Street Fire Station where it can be better monitored.

The curbside program hasn’t been without its challenges either, but the solutions are more easily resolved through education. Doug Atkins, who manages the program for Waste-Pro, says there are two important matters for customers to understand at this point in the program. First, recyclables should go into their blue recycle bins loose. He said many of the customers are putting their recyclables in plastic trash bags or plastic shopping bags before placing them in the bin. Please don’t do this as it causes double handling and becomes costly to the program. Second, recyclables should be at the curb by 7 a.m. Monday morning.

There are a number of good reasons for recycling. One most obvious is keeping valuable resources out of our landfill. But the most important reason are costs related to energy savings. It takes 96 percent less energy to turn an old aluminum can into a new one from raw materials. Recycled plastic bottles use 76 percent less energy to produce and recycled newsprint uses about 45 percent less energy to produce. Glass is the least efficient recyclable material at 21 percent less energy, but still comes out ahead.

For clarification, acceptable household recyclable materials for the Brookhaven curbside recycle program include any plastic with the recyclable symbol with a number 1 or 2 in the middle. These include water and soda bottles, milk jugs, shampoo bottles, catsup and mayonnaise bottles and the like. For paper products: newspapers, magazines, phone books, junk mail, catalogs, office papers, cardboard boxes and poster boards are all acceptable. Metal items include aluminum cans and steel vegetable and soup cans. Glass is not accepted.

So remember, leave your recyclables loose in the blue bin and have it out before 7 a.m. Start planning your yard sale and the Caribbean vacation you’ll take with all that cash you’ll earn. If you’re like me and on the downhill side of life, start thinking twice before you buy those unneeded items. It’s true hearses don’t come with trailer hitches or luggage racks.

Rick Reynolds is president/publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at