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Richmond, Kentucky - Recycling Tips

Recycling Tips

The three R's -- reduce, recycle, reuse -- have become far more than just words. They are now in common usage in many parts of the country and the people in many communities are noticing the difference that these simple principles make. You can do your part:

When shopping, bring carry bags with you and consolidate your purchases so you can cut down on the number of store bags which you take home. While you're at it, make use of your store's recycling programs: most provide receptacles for paper and plastic bags; some even give credit for the bags you return. Also, avoid unnecessary packaging whenever you can.

Recycle at home. The depth of curbside recycling programs varies greatly between different counties, cities, and towns and is often dependent upon transportation costs, availability of markets, and access to landfill space. Some areas collect only newspapers and clear glass, while others take aluminum, tin, coated papers (such as that often found in junk mail and magazines), several varieties of plastic, and every conceivable color of glass.

Take used hazardous waste-containing products to the appropriate collection centers or to the recycling areas at specialty stores. With the advent of the 1995 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Part 273 rule -- better known as the "Universal Waste" rule -- EPA established a new framework for the handling of certain hazardous wastes. As a result, there has been steady growth in the number of easy ways to recycle products that may pose hazards to the environment. Spent batteries, fluorescent lamps, and mercury-containing thermostats are examples of items that are now being collected by retail stores or through manufacturers' free mailers. Learn about such programs in your area and make use of them instead of throwing potentially harmful items out with the trash.

Recycle at the office. Americans throw away so much office paper each year that if it were all collected and stacked 12 feet high, the resulting wall of paper would stretch from Los Angeles all the way to New York! It is estimated that the average office worker disposes of almost one pound of recyclable paper a day. Many offices have instituted recycling programs similar to those which employees are carrying out in their homes. Items such as bottles, cans, cardboard and phonebooks don't need to end up in the trash! Neither do many office supplies such as laser printer and copy machine cartridges -- manufacturers often encourage recycling of their products. If you don't have an office recycling program in place, initiate one. It's easy to find out what is involved, and besides promoting recycling, you might save your company money on disposal costs.

Buy recycled products. Besides environmental concerns and the increasing cost of landfilling, a major reason for the growth of recycling has been an increase in consumer demand for products which reuse materials from a previously disposable source. Fibers used in brand name garments, building materials such as plasterboard, and paper products are but a few of the many things available today which are made from recycled stock.

Compost your biodegradable waste. It's easy to make compost at home -- it can be done in a modified garbage can or even in a plastic garbage bag. Dug into your garden, or spread on your lawn, flower bed, or around your trees, compost acts as a great natural fertilizer and makes for healthier plants. You can compost kitchen scraps (including egg shells and coffee grounds), animal manure, grass clippings, leaves, and plant trimmings by making a simple heap in your backyard.  If you don't have much space, you can use a large metal or plastic container, such as a garbage can. Simply cut out the top and bottom, and drill or cut ventilation holes in the sides. You can even put the wastes in a black plastic garbage bag, seal it, and put it in a sunny place. To prevent odors and speed up the decomposition process, occasionally turn your compost pile to provide it with air. If the center of the pile or bin becomes dry, add some water as you turn it over. You may want to shred your waste, since small scraps decay more quickly.

Not only is population growing, each individual requires more material possessions than ever before. At the same time, our  ability to deal with waste is becoming more and more limited. Reducing consumption and reducing the amount of pollution we generate are things each of us can do to stretch what resources we have to help meet future needs. Recycling and composting are simple ways to accomplish these goals.