If you’ve been following The Green Space for the last couple of weeks, you know that recycling has been the topic. Plastic recycling is this week’s emphasis.

If you’ve been following The Green Space for the last couple of weeks, you know that recycling has been the topic. Plastic recycling is this week’s emphasis.

This all started with a young friend of mine who stated she didn’t believe in recycling because she thought it actually took more energy to recycle materials than make them from virgin natural resources. I have to admit, after doing the research I’ve been amazed at the amount of energy and resources that recycling does save, and the amount of aluminum, paper, and plastic that Americans throw away every year. It makes me even more dedicated to my own recycling at home.

Some of the Green Space highlights include:

Aluminum –

Americans added 36 billion aluminum cans last year to the landfill. The process of recycling a can saves 95 percent of the energy it takes to make a new can from virgin resources.

Paper –

We throw away about 1 Billion trees’ worth of paper each year. Producing recycled paper requires 60 percent less energy than producing paper from virgin tree pulp.

Plastic –

We use 2 1/2 million plastic bottles every hour in the US, and most of those are thrown away! At least one million sea animals are killed every year by plastic bags and other plastic trash thrown into the ocean. As a matter of fact, San Francisco has banned the use of plastic bags by their merchants. Producing plastic from recycled material uses a third less energy than producing it from raw materials. Recycling a single plastic bottle can save enough energy to light a 60w light bulb for 6 hours. It will take 100 to 1,000 years for plastic to break down in a landfill. (Styrofoam never breaks down – never!) Recycling one ton of plastic can save 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of oil. Only 18 percent of all plastic in the U.S. is recycled each year. Even though drink bottles (water/soda, known as PET plastic) are the easiest to recycle, only 36 percent of them are recycled!

Recycled plastic is used to make clothing, carpets, pipes, and decking material, to name a few uses.

Americans throw away over 25 trillion Styrofoam coffee cups every year!

Ever wonder exactly what those numbers mean inside the triangle of chasing arrows? Here’s a short breakdown of what common items are for those numbers:

1. Polyester fibers, PET bottles
2. Bottles, plastic carrier bags, recycling bins
3. Pipe, fencing, non-food bottles
4. Plastic bags, containers, dispensing bottles
5. Auto parts, industrial fibers
6. Coffee cups, toys, video cassettes
7. Various

Most U.S. recyclers commonly accept 1, 2, & 6. However, you can find some that will accept some of the other plastics, as well.

In my opinion, the best way to avoid recycling plastic is to avoid purchasing items in plastic whenever possible. I’ve totally weaned myself off of purchasing water bottles. I use my own drink bottles and refill them. It’s so much easier and so much better for the environment.

I hope this has been an eye-opener for you, too! And, led you closer to a recycling bin in your home, if there’s not one already there! Keep on thinking GREEN!

Information for this article was retracted in part from these sites: