The process of recycling involves reusing waste materials and making new products from them while trying to avoid wasting any materials which might be useful.
With recycling, fewer fresh materials are needed, less energy is used and our air and water pollution is reduced.
You’ve seen the recycle symbol on plastic containers a thousand times but did you ever notice a number inside the symbol? Look at the water bottle sitting next to you or in your fridge, look for the recycle symbol and notice what number is inside it, it’s probably a 1 or a 2. Below we tell you what the most common numbers mean, it’s simple but something we should all know including children.
Important! Be sure to read below, why to never reuse a #1 plastic water bottle to drink out of. A #1 water bottle is your typical store bought drinking water bottle.
Instead of tossing something recyclable into the trash, you should do your part to make sure it gets recycled. Often times there’s designated areas to drop off recyclables. If you have a garbage collector at your home or office, ask them if they have a special container for you to put your recyclables in.
Below are some interesting facts about recycling:
- Using an average 12 ounce soda or beer can, it takes about 33 empty aluminum cans to equal one pound.
- The average disposable diaper sold today could easily last well over one hundred years in a local landfill and the average baby will need at least 7500 diapers from birth until potty/toilet trained.
- Glass is 100% recyclable, it doesn’t lose quality, durability or purity during the recycling process.
- The international agency for research on cancer has said that styrene ( what styrofoam comes from – polystyrene or polystyrene foam from the styrene monomer) is a probable carcinogen and the EPA says it’s a suspected toxin to some of the bodies organs. The National Toxicology Program has deemed it an anticipated human carcinogen. When you use a Styrofoam cup, remember they have a long lifespan in a landfill and are very unlikely to ever be recycled. Styrofoam is also known to be a choking hazard for a lot of animals.
- Have you heard of fog harvesting? There’s a net (sometimes referred to as a fog harvesting fence or fog harvesting tower) that with the help of wind can take fog and turn it into clean drinking water and they are improving peoples lives in some areas of the world where water is scarce.
- There’s a number inside the recycle symbol on most plastics, it’s usually on or near the bottom of every plastic container. If your drinking out of one right now it most likely has a 1 or 2 on it. Recycled #2 plastics are heavier plastics than #1 plastics. A #2 plastic would be a typical milk jug, some juice bottles and even detergent jugs. If it has a 1, which is what an average water bottle sold in the local grocery by the pack would most likely have on it. You may notice the #1 plastic is probably very clear and thinner than the #2 container. Different grades of plastics are recycled into different products.
- #1 plastics or (PET plastics) are often times recycled into products using fleece, jackets, carpet, backpacks, sleeping bags etc.
- #2 plastics can be recycled into heavier more durable products than #1 plastics like plastic crates, outdoor plastic furniture, play sets for children, toys, buckets, and even back into drinking and food grade containers and more.
- Plastics #2, #4 and #5 are the plastics that can be made safest for foods and drinking. Notice we didn’t mention #1, while #1 is considered safe enough by the FDA to drink the contents once, most health advocates agree that manufactures shouldn’t recycle the #1 plastic back into a drinking bottle again because of bacteria concerns.
- Back to #1 grade water bottles. Do not reuse #1 grade plastic bottles, think of the 1 as (one time use) because they are not manufactured for repeated use.Repeated use of a #1 plastic container for drinking or eating can release unwanted, unhealthy chemicals in your food and drink, washing it does not help, washing it does not make it safer and can actually release more chemicals. I’m guilty, I’ve done it but not any more.
- The battery pack on some hybrid drive vehicles manufactured today like the Toyota Prius can contain a whopping 20+ pounds of a rare earth metal called lanthanum. 90-95% of the earths lanthanum has been coming from China for years. China has recently made claims that they will scale back mining and exporting it, those are the facts so In theory by the time the battery on your new Toyota Prius goes bad (probably 10+ years) it could be a valuable recyclable.
- Did you know food scraps can be recycled into an excellent compost for gardening? Breads, vegetables, fruit peels, coffee grounds and even eggshells are just a few of the ingredients that can be used to strengthen your soil’s fertility.
- We all use bottles and jars either directly or indirectly, Americans discard about 28 billion of them each year.
- Buenos Aires is home to about 3 million people which accumulate about 6 thousand tons of trash per day. It’s estimated that around 90% of their trash isn’t being recycled which is overloading their landfills and making garbage disposal a growing concern.
- The most used metal in the world today is iron.
- The second most used metal in the world today is aluminum followed by copper.
- The typical can made in America has about 25% recycled steel in it.
- Upcycling is when a material is recycled or transitioned into a more purposeful and valuable item than it was originally. For example, recycled bottles are used to make fleece which is used to make clothes.
- Some strange things I’ve seen upcycled into other things are: A teapot and pan upcycled into a cool lamp, wood coat hangers combined with a bicycle rim upcycled into a unique chandelier and thousands of prescription lenses used to make a dazzling and glimmering chandelier ball.
- What is Repurposing? Repurposing is when a tool or item is simply used for something other than what the manufacturer created it for. For example, people often use car tires to protect boats when docking.
- Statistics say that about 80% of everything which is thrown by Americans can be recycled. The reality is that less than 30% is being recycled. There is a lot of room for improvement.
- All the jars and glass bottles thrown away during one month by Americans could fill a huge skyscraper, the size of the Empire State Building. All these glass containers could be recycled instead.
- It’s estimated that millions of creatures from the sea have been killed by plastic garbage and bags which are thrown in the oceans.
- There is a huge patch of garbage on the ocean and that’s a fact. It’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is an enormous cesspool of various chemicals with a high reading of plastic pollutants. what we’re unclear on is it’s actual size which is now estimated to be larger than all of the United States.
- If a ton of paper is recycled, around 17 trees are saved, as well as two oil barrels, 4100 energy kilowatts, 60 pounds worth of pollution and over 3 cubic yards in the landfills. If you’ve read all of the interesting facts about recyclingto this point, you’re incredible!