You Can Help Turn the Tide on Plastic. Here’s How.
Do these six pain-free things, and you’ll help reduce the impact plastic is having on oceans and other waterways around the world.
Six Things You Can Do (and Feel No Pain)
1. Give up plastic bags. Take your own reusable ones to the store. A trillion plastic shopping bags are used worldwide every year, and 100 billion in the United States alone—that’s almost one per American per day. The average Dane, in contrast, goes through four single-use bags per year. Denmark passed the first bag tax in 1993.
2. Skip straws. Unless you have medical needs, and even then you could use paper ones. Americans toss 500 million plastic straws every day, or about 1.5 per person.
3. Pass up plastic bottles. Invest in a refillable water bottle. Some come with filters if you’re worried about water quality. A handful of cities, including Bundanoon, Australia, and San Francisco, have banned or partially banned bottled water. But around the world, nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute.
4. Avoid plastic packaging. Buy bar soap instead of liquid. Buy in bulk. Avoid produce sheathed in plastic. And while you’re at it, give up plastic plates and cups. The French are (partially) banning the stuff.
5. Recycle what you can. Even in rich countries, recycling rates are low. Globally, 18 percent of all plastic is recycled. Europe manages 30 percent, China 25—the United States only 9.
6. Don’t litter. The Ocean Conservancy has run beach cleanups for 30 years. Of the top 10 types of trash they find, the only nonplastic item is glass bottles. Worldwide, 73 percent of beach litter is plastic: cigarette butts (the filters), bottles and caps, food wrappers, grocery bags, polystyrene containers. In 2016 the conservancy collected 9,200 tons of trash in 112 countries—around a thousandth of what enters the ocean each year.
Recycling is the process of taking a product at the end of its useful life and using all or part of it to make another product. The internationally recognized symbol for recycling includes three arrows moving in a triangle. Each arrow represents a different part of the recycling process, from collection to re-manufacture to resale. Recycling reduces our waste sent to landfills, and making new products out of recycled ones reduces the amount of energy needed in production.The U.S. EPA estimates that 75 percent of our waste is recyclable, which goes well beyond what you toss in your recycling bin at home or at school. Recycling serves two key purposes:
It keeps valuable material such as aluminum and paper out of landfills, so this material can be reused in other forms and not wasted.
It prevents hazardous materials and chemicals such as lead and mercury from ending up in landfills, which can contaminate soil and leach into our drinking water
Because of the second purpose, it's important to recycle lots of products, including those that you might not initially think of recycling. This includes batteries, electronics, motor oil, paint and any product that has "Caution" or "Warning" on the label.
Battery Recycling Update Attention Southern Windsor County: Recycle Your Used Batteries and Save Our Landfill! Have you been throwing the used batteries from your remote controls, flashlights or toys into the trash? Stop! Until recently that was acceptable in Vermont. However, since Jan. 1, 2016, the State has added single-use batteries (alkaline or primary like AA, AAA, C, D, 9v) to the list of accepted recyclables.
What does this change mean for you as a resident? That you can now recycle most household batteries at your closest transfer station. This includes rechargeable batteries which have been accepted since the mid-1990s. Expanding battery recycling to include single-use batteries is a direct result of a product stewardship law the Vermont legislature passed in May 2014. The law (H. 695) makes Vermont the first US state to require single-use battery manufacturers that sell batteries in the state to pay for their collection and recycling. Manufacturers have voluntarily recycled rechargeable batteries since 1994. Under the program, battery recycling is free of charge for residents.
Since the law went into effect, the District has seen a jump in its single-use battery collections. The highest collection rate goes to the largest transfer station, Springfield, with a threefold increase in collections over all of 2015. Rechargeables have also seen an uptick.
Residents who visit the Springfield station will see a custom-built battery shed with separate compartments for different battery types. Employee Dan Farrar built the shed several years ago when local residents became frustrated by the lack of recycling for single-use batteries. “Intuitively people don’t feel good about throwing away batteries. They know there is value and materials should be reused,” said Mary O’Brien, recycling coordinator for the District.
In addition to transfer stations, Vermont residents can drop off their batteries at a Call2Recycle collection site; 96% of Vermonters have a site within 10 miles of their homes. Call2Recycle, Inc., North America’s largest consumer battery stewardship organization, is overseeing the state-wide program on behalf of manufacturers. Call2Recycle uses a network of recyclers who extract usable chemicals and metals for use in manufacturing new batteries, stainless steel and cement additives.
You can find out more about what batteries are accepted and how they are recycled by clicking on the links on the Call2Recycle web site.
Vermont's Universal Recycling Law The law affects all Vermonters. Vermont has new solid waste legislation that focuses on recyclables and organics. It will lead to more consistent services throughout the state. To read much more about this law, click here. If you would like to look at and/or use the new universal recycling symbols for recycling, food, and trash, click here. And here's a news article that sums up the law. Download the Universal Recycling timeline and/or a summary of the new law.
Recycle Corks You can recycle your corks, natural only, at all of the transfer stations in the District: Ludlow, Cavendish, Springfield, Rockingham, and Weathersfield. Look for the plastic jug or pail and drop in your corks. The natural corks are mailed to reCork where they are ground and used to make soles for new shoes.
Cork Update: March 2015: Thanks to the efforts of wine drinkers throughout the District, we have recycled over 25,000 corks. We ship natural corks to reCork which uses them to make cork soles for shoes. The shipping is free so there is no cost to the District and it's one more resource that's not going to the landfill. All District transfer stations collect corks.
Vermont's New Paint Law The paint stewardship law requires the paint industry to be responsible for collecting and managing leftover architectural paint in Vermont, reducing the role of government and taxpayers. The cost of the program is paid by manufacturers who sell paint in the state; a fee is included in the price of paint sold in Vermont. The program is administered by a paint stewardship organization, PaintCare. Click on www.paintcare.orgfor a list of what products are accepted and what are not.
In our District, latex and oil-based paint are accepted at the four annual household hazardous waste collections. Several retailers have also signed up to be year-round collection locations: Bibens and Sherwin-Williams in Springfield, Aubuchon Hardware in Windsor and LaValley's in Ludlow. Bring labeled, non-rusty, non-leaking cans to the retailers; we'll take the rest at our household hazardous waste collections.
Vermont's E-Waste Law There are two important parts to the Vermont's e-waste (used electronics) law which took effect in 2011. The first part is the landfill ban on many electronic devices as of January 1, 2011. The second is the FREE recycling of certain e-waste (computers, computer monitors, CRT-containing devices, printers, and TVs) as of July 1, 2011. For the details, click on the Department of Environmental Conservation's website. Vermont is the twenty-first state in the country to enact an e-waste law. The free program is open to Vermont residents, charities, school districts, and small businesses with up to ten employees.In our District, the Cavendish, Ludlow, Rockingham, Springfield, and Weathersfield transfer stations have registered as free collection sites.
Best Buy Recycles Electronics Best Buy stores have an e-waste recycling program that will take a lot of items - most of them at no charge.
Recycling #5 Plastics Want to turn your empty medicine bottle or used Brita filter into a toothbrush? Preserve can do that for you. As a producer of recycled personal-care and kitchen products, Preserve has partnered with Stonyfield Farms for many years, refashioning its organic yogurt containers into a line of recycled plastic toothbrushes, razors, mixing bowls, food-storage containers, and more.
As of January 2009, Preserve has expanded its collection efforts with its new "Gimme 5" program, allowing you to recycle all of your #5 plastic – whatever its origin -- into Preserve products.
Mail your plastics directly to Preserve, or deliver them to participating Whole Foods Markets, which are serving as collection centers. A much more local store with a collection box is the White River Food Co-op. The box is located near the exit door.
Interesting Fact... The energy saved from recycling one aluminum can is enough to run a TV set for 3 hours and a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours!
Bridal Gowns If you have a 2009 or newer wedding gown and wish to donate it for a good cause, contact Brides Against Breast Cancer. Donated new and used gowns are sold across the country to raise money to fund the wishes and dreams of women and men who are losing their fight against breast cancer.
Computer Recycling Staples will take back your used computer, even if you didn't buy it there. Staples has stores in Bennington, Brattleboro, and Rutland, Vermont and in West Lebanon and Claremont, New Hampshire. A fee of $10.00 per computer system is charged. WinCycle in Windsor also accepts computers for a fee. Best Buy accepts computers as well. You can also list your computer on the Reuse Marketplace. The Reuse Marketplace is a service that seeks to reduce waste by promoting the exchange of reusable commercial materials. Through the Marketplace, companies with surplus or by-product materials connect with other businesses or individuals who can reuse these materials productively. While businesses save money on disposal fees, they also reduce their impact on the environment. You set the price you want to get for your computer and whether that is negotiable or free to non-profit organizations. It's easy.For more information, go to www.reusemarketplace.org.
The "National Cristina Foundation (NCF) provides computer technology and solutions to give people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons the opportunity, through training, to lead more independent and productive lives. Every day, across America and around the world, National Cristina Foundation is working to ensure that used computer technology resources that no longer meet an enterprise's or an individual's needs are given a second productive life as a tool for developing human potential." To learn about the donation process, go to www.cristina.org .
Green Up Day In Vermont, Green Up Day is always the first Saturday in May. Click here to learn all about it and order Green Up t-shirts.
Cell Phones and Inkjet Cartridges In 2000, the Black River Action Team was formed from the desire of some concerned citizens to take the protection of the Vermont Black River Wastershed into their own hands and make a difference. Some of the Team's projects have included:
River Sweep 2006
Vermont Clean Water Day 2006
Shopping Cart Capture 2006
Jones & Lamson Brownfield Rehabilitation
As a way to reduce waste going to landfills and to raise funds creatively, the Black River Action Team recycles old cell phones and empty inkjet and laser cartridges. People with one or more of these items can contact BRAT at firstname.lastname@example.org.