The Dump [What's Green with Betsy]

The dump, recycling center, transfer station, whatever it is called in your area, is a must visit!  In our town of 30,000, we don’t have trash or recycling pick up, so most people go to the dump. There they recycle newspapers, magazines, junk mail, cardboard, plastic containers, cans, glass bottles and jars, computer monitors, television sets and for a small fee, old appliances, yard debris, bulky metal, etc.  It’s almost a local gathering spot – politicians politic there and neighbors and friends greet each other.  It’s old fashioned and fun.

English: Recyclables at transfer station near ...

English: Recyclables at transfer station near Gainesville, FL. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While this seems a little outdated, it occurs to me every time I go to the dump that everyone needs to experience sorting and throwing recyclables in the appropriate container.  The amount of recyclables in our town alone is shocking!  Multiply that by the number of towns and cities in the US and the world.  Think of all the areas of the country that don’t recycle. According to the Clean Air Council, “Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.”  “The average American office worker uses about 500 disposable cups every.” “Every year, Americans use approximately 1 billion shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste.”   With the garbage produced in America alone, you could form a line of filled-up garbage trucks and reach the moon or cover the state of Texas two and a half times.  And shockingly, America is not the number one producer of garbage in the world!

Recycling is only part of the answer. What we need is a paradigm shift to focus on reducing consumption at home and in the workplace.  There is a lot we can do: buy fewer disposable products, avoid purchasing products with too much packaging, service appliances to keep them working efficiently, fix things instead of throwing them away, buy local, don’t give into impulse buying, go with quality not quantity, purchase biodegradable products, check out thrift and vintage shops and always use less energy and water.  Reducing consumption is crucial to a sustainable future.

Take your kids, your friends, your students, your coworkers on a field trip to a transfer station and get a tangible look at the amount of trash we dispose of.  It’s eye-opening!

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