It is no secret that we live in a society dominated by disposables. Many of the products you purchase today have a one-use shelf life and are then relegated to the trash. Although an increasing amount of information is available to consumers with regard to living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, today’s marketplace still places an emphasis on consumption. The average American discards close to 5 pounds of trash a day, which amounts to a staggering 56 tons over the course of a year, one third of which is simply packaging. Thankfully, one of the most basic concepts in eco-consciousness is also the easiest to take part in; RECYCLING! This, of course, is not a new idea, but were you aware of the amount of materials you normally discard which can be eliminated from your trash bin?
Jacksonville residents have access to basic recycling through the Solid Waste Department. This of course involves placing items such as glass, plastic containers labeled with numbers 1 or 2, aluminum cans, newspapers and corrugated cardboard into bins provided by your carrier. Until recently, homeowners in Duval County (and most other counties throughout the U.S.) were left to dispose of the rest of their used containers, materials, etc. in the trash, contributing to the landfill statistics already mentioned. Thankfully, there are many more products now available to consumers looking to flex more recycling muscle and companies to teach us that the art of recycling goes beyond placing the correct items at the curb.
Cheryl Perez is the Director and Owner of Think Green Make Green, Inc.,(http://www.thinkgreenmakegreen.org/ ) a paper recycling company offering green product solutions and consulting services for companies of almost any size. Think Green (http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Think-Green-Make-Green-Inc/118053705507?ref=ts) is a Florida based company with ties to the Jacksonville area and plans to service Duval and surrounding counties soon. Ms. Perez’s growing list of clientele seek out her expertise to educate them on innovative ways to recycle. Some of these suggestions include taking materials such as cereal boxes and office waste paper (items that most recycling centers do not accept), to schools and daycare centers to be used in art projects. The newspaper that could be recycled, but often finds its way to the trash bin, could also be taken to local pet stores which will shred it, then use it for pet bedding.
Ms. Perez also recommends that homes and businesses be smarter about their purchases and seek out alternatives to traditional food packaging, food service items, as well as ink products. Major manufacturers such as Hewlett Packard now offer products like energy efficient printers and major retailers like Staples and Office Depot offer monetary rewards for returning empty ink cartridges to the store. Think Green Make Green, Inc. themselves offer products ranging from completely biodegradable trash bags that actually cost less than traditional plastic, to a complete line of pet toy products made from discarded office waste paper and cardboard. This process is known as upcycling , a term that refers to the act of converting useless waste material into completely new products with an increased environmental value. Companies such as TerraCycle ( http://www.terracycle.net/) are also involved in upcycling and encourage “brigades” to collect items such as juice box containers and potato chip bags and return them to TerraCycle for cash. The company then turns these normally discarded items into products like backpacks, pencil cases and plant pots.
Any home or business owner can take a more proactive stance in recycling and lessen their impact on the world’s landfills, so it makes sense to take full advantage of all of the opportunities available!