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Make the world last longer -- recycle

August 30, 2008|By LEIF E. GREEN

"Recycling is the processing of used or waste material so that it can be used again, instead of being wasted."

- Encarta online dictionary

Everything we consume - food, cars, aluminum foil, toothpaste, everything we eat, buy or generally use - originally comes from somewhere.

They are made from natural resources - trees, petroleum, iron ore and other minerals, fresh water, etc. - that come from across the world. And they are not going to last forever, especially at the rate we're using them up.

Here's the scoop on recycling. First of all, recycling conserves our natural resources. For example, recycling one ton of paper saves 17 35-foot-tall trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and enough electricity to heat the average American home for six months (from a University of Maryland document available at www.drf.umd.edu/Recycling/documents/3-stillnotconvinced.pdf).

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Secondly, recycling is one of the easiest things you can do at home. Sure, it takes a conscious effort, but once you develop a routine, it becomes a habit. And what a worthwhile habit it is. Recycling cardboard, newspapers, junk mail, plastic water bottles, and aluminum cans are a good place to start because these recycled materials have so many uses. The City of Hagerstown offers curbside pickup. How easy is that?

For the rest of us, we can drop our recyclables off at Washington County's green bins. If you have questions as to what can be recycled and where bins are located, go to the county Web site at www.washco-md.net/enviro_man/solid_waste/recycling.shtm.

There are a couple guidelines for recycling. Break down cardboard boxes; for extra credit, cut them into manageable pieces less than 2 feet square.

There is nothing more frustrating for someone who takes their recyclables a distance, only to find a packed-to-the-brim bin full of empty cardboard boxes.

Also, after you empty your plastic bag of mingled plastic, glass, steel and aluminum in the bin, take your bag home and reuse it.

Leif E. Green is the nom de plume of a columnist writing on behalf of the Boonsboro Recycling Task Force. Today's columnist is Kathy Vesely.

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