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Recycle of the 3Rs Hierarchy

By Larraine Roulston:

At a recycling conference I attended, a guest speaker related a story that, after WWI, some politicians in the United States recyclerenwere told to encourage their citizens to continue sorting metal and paper. After all, people were already in that habit to support the war effort. However, political wisdom discarded the tasks of the grim past and, instead, campaigned towards a more carefree lifestyle. When landfill sites began filling up and siting new locations became harder, recycling returned to the forefront.

My third article promoting Reduce, Reuse, Recycle notes that Recycle, the last “R,” was promoted first, due to its visual imagery and sound. Many statistical facts regarding the volumes recycled and resources saved also existed to support it. As well, Boy Scouts of America had newspaper and bottle drives, and Europeans were already recycling — all making recycling the easiest marketing tool to get things underway.

Canadian Nyle Ludolph was considered the “father of the Blue Box” when he convinced his employer Laidlaw to recycle. In1981, his encouragement to pilot the Blue Box in a small neighborhood was a hit. With positive public support to provide a continuous supply of the material, Kitchener Ontario rolled out, city-wide, Blue Boxes to 35,000 homes. The first items accepted at curbside included aluminum/tin and glass food containers, paper (glossy magazines excluded), and — number 1 — plastic pop bottles. The initial result of recyclables filling the Blue Boxes was overwhelming. The Recycling Council of Ontario proclaimed an annual Recycling Week. The name changed to Waste Reduction Week (celebrated mid-October) in order to encompass the bigger picture.

recycling binsIt takes approximately 25 years to change a society; recycling has come a long way. It is now a passion for many, but for others, tossing waste into a large green garbage bag is still second nature. Changing old habits is an ongoing process of education and peer pressure. To keep on rolling to recycle, in 2015 the province of Nova Scotia announced a new “Pink Bin” that collects old shoes, stuffed toys and clothing (excluding oily textiles). In the U.S., San Francisco is known for high recycling participation and the state of Oregon just announced a new 54% rate of recycling.

Here is how you can continue to help. Be mindful as to how your municipality accepts and sorts items. Improve the process by rinsing recyclables and crushing tin cans and plastic bottles to save space. Remove paperclips and spiral binding from paper. If you have acquired a single serving beverage maker and if your area takes its plastic number, you can recycle the small containers by opening them up and scooping out the residue for composting. By soaking an empty concentrated juice cylinder, the cardboard can be easily removed for composting and the two metal ends can be recycled. Check to see if your local recycling depot or transfer station accepts drywall, E-waste, hazardous waste, shingles, hard plastics, clean wood, scrap metal and textiles.

Like all businesses, recycling markets are volatile. It is up to us to purchase products with recycled content. A greeting card made with100% post-consumer paper means you are sending the very best.

Larraine authors the Pee Wee at Castle Compost series www.castlecompost.com

About Larraine Roulston

A mother of 4 with 6 wonderful grandchildren, Larraine has been active in the environmental movement since the early l970s. When the first blue boxes for recycling were launched in her region, she began writing a local weekly newspaper column to promote the 3Rs. Since that time, she has been a freelance writer for several publications, including BioCycle magazine. As a composting advocate, Larraine authors children's adventure stories that combine composting facts with literature. Currently she is working on the 6th book of her Pee Wee at Castle Compost series, which can be viewed at www.castlecompost.com. As well, Larraine and her husband Pete have built a straw bale home and live in Ontario.

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  1. Loved your post. The three R’s is a clever and easy way to get the message across. Here in the UK recycling has become an issue that most of us are aware of, and take pride in getting it done correctly. Keeping on keeping on.

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