This essay, by Grant B., a sixth grade Covington student, won our 2018 essay contest. Thanks for your amazing work, Grant!
What Can I Recycle And Why?
Do you know how much waste is produced in the world each year? Have you ever wondered what materials make up our garbage and what materials can be recycled? Did you ever wonder how recycled materials were processed and where they go after being picked up? More importantly, what products are made from recycled materials? Aside from recycling, have you ever asked yourself how you can reduce the waste produced at your home, work, or school? Recycling is important and were about to find out why.
How much waste is produced in the United States and in the world? In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of the material. During that time, the recycling rate was at 34.3 percent. The world produces more than 2 billion tons of garbage each year. In 2004, China overtook the U.S. as the world's top trash producer. Low income countries contributed to 569 million tons, middle income countries contributed around 986 million tons, and high income countries had 566 million tons of garbage.
What materials make up our garbage and what can be recycled? The main thing in our garbage is everyday items we use and then throw away, such as product packaging, grass clippings, furniture, clothing, bottles, food scraps, newspapers, appliances, paint, and batteries.
There are many items we use daily that can be recycled. For example, aluminum cans are 100% recyclable. By recycling the cans we could reduce the energy needed to produce brand new cans by recycling our empty cans. Also, aluminum foil, bakeware, steel, tin, veggie and coffee cans corrugated cardboard, magazines, office paper, newspapers, dairy and juice cartons, clear and brown glass, plastics, car batteries, rechargeable batteries, computers, and even televisions can be recycled. The typical items that can be picked up curbside are paper products, cartons, empty glass bottles, plastics, and aluminum and steel cans.
Have you ever wondered where recycled materials go after being picked up at the curb and how they are processed? The recycled items are hauled to a sorting center where the separation begins. The truck unloads the materials which are then carried on a conveyor belt to a separator. The metals are pulled by giant magnets and placed in a bin for the metal mill. Once the paper, metals, and nonmagnetic metals have been sorted, the plastic and glass continue down the conveyor belt. The plastic goes in a certain bin while the glass is collected in a separate bin. For example, when paper arrives at the mill, it is loaded into a "de-inker." The machine removes the ink form the paper fibers through a chemical washing process. After de-inking, the paper is mixed with water and solvents in a giant blender called a "pulper." The product is then called a pulp slurry. The pulp slurry is then moved to a giant washing machine that spins at a high speed removing any unwanted particles. After washing, the clean pulp continues on to a press and is wound on giant rolls.
Many products are made from recycled products. First, some paper can be recycled into insulation for homes and even toilet paper. Second, recycled metal is often recycled into file cabinets, tin foil, and even bridges. Third, plastics are often melted down to make new products such as lawn furniture, garbage cans, and carpets. Also, some products made from recycled glass include glass doorknobs, floor tiles, garden ornaments, and even jewelry beads.
So, how can you reduce the amount of waste at your home, work, or school? A way to reduce garbage, for example, is to wipe clean aluminum foil and to reuse as many times as possible. Next, switch to cloth bags instead of plastic bags. Another huge problem, is the waste of food in America. A rule to follow is, buy only the food you and your family plan to eat.
Another rule is to store your food properly to keep it fresh as long as possible. Next, you can start a compost pile which creates lots of nutrients to help in one's garden or flower beds. Do you know how many times you have bought something new instead of fixing what was broken? By simply fixing an object that is broken is so much better for the planet than buying a new product. Another way to reduce waste is to cancel any unnecessary mail. And last but not least, stop using disposable plates and buying plastic water bottles!
In conclusion, recycling is a win-win situation. Clearly, there are a lot of benefits to recycling. Adults and children need to be better educated on how and what items can be recycled. We all need to look around and ask ourselves what we can do to help the environment and make the world a better place to live.
Kearns, Landess. "9 Simple Ways To Reduce Waste In Your Home." Home and Living (2016)
Gaynor, Michael. "Where Does Your Recycling Go?" Washingtonian (2012)
"What Can I Recycle?" Waste Management. 2017. 20 March 2018. http://www.wm.com/thingreen/what-can-i-recycle.jsp