I am fascinated by how other countries approach recycling. I recently visited a website called Recycle More from Ireland. Their approach, like so many European countries, is detailed. They expect their citizens to make the effort to recycle as many items as possible. And they certainly don’t limit their recycling to plastic bottles and aluminum cans. There is no one-stop drop-off for many items. If you are Irish, you take electronics back to electronic shops, batteries to shops that sell them, etc.
Recycling is mandatory in a number of communities in the United States as well. But I still am not sure if that is why other countries tend to do a much better job at recycling or if it is because their citizens expect to recycle and minimize waste.
Last Monday, I watched a video on recycling in Japan. The Japanese have tremendous reverence for nature, so recycling is one of the many ways they try to protect the environment.
In the video, a gentleman shares how to turn in recycling for collection at his apartment building. The “collection site” in the building basement would blow the minds of many Americans. There are no blue bins bearing the recycle symbol. Residents sort their items into the right containers, which consist of odd bags and crates and cardboard boxes. Twenty-two different types of items are collected in this particular building. That high number is not unusual in Japan.
No single-stream recycling here — they sort. They do not worry about having a certain kind of container to place items in. They want to take care of their world, so they make the effort. And it works.
I understand that the more convenient recycling is, the more people will recycle. But the bottom line is we really need to recycle whether it is convenient or not. Recycling helps conserve natural resources, minimize the amount of waste we create and protect our groundwater and waterways from toxins that might leach from landfills.
I guess over the years, I have found that people who get why it is important to recycle make the effort to recycle no matter what. I think these people have “recycle hearts.” Maybe that sounds mushy, but I think it’s true. Recyclers recycle because they care and believe it makes a difference.
So, we are looking for all you “recycle hearts” Saturday, Sept. 13, at our next quarterly Recycle It! Fair. These events are our opportunities in Liberty County to turn in many items that cannot be recycled at our local recycling drop-off centers, such as electronics, a variety of household goods, and several household hazardous-waste items.
This quarter’s fairs are from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Liberty County Health Department, 1113 E. Oglethorpe Highway; the Midway Fire Department, 10490 E. Oglethorpe Highway; and Walthourville City Hall, 222 Busbee Road. Volunteers at these locations can assist you with your items. Our partners — Coastal Auto and Recycling, Liberty County Solid Waste, the local police and sheriff’s departments, the cities of Midway and Walthourville, and Goodwill Industries — make these quarterly Recycle It! Fairs possible.
Many items collected release toxins over time and do not need to end up in a landfill. The usefulness of many collected items can be extended through re-use or by recycling their components to create additional products.
Here are the items we will accept:
• electronics including computers, printers, monitors and any computer accessories; stereo equipment and televisions; cellphones and accessories. All hard drives will be wiped clean for your security by our local Goodwill Industries.
• household paint as long as the cans are sealed well, not rusted and at least half-full. If your cans are not in good condition, add cat litter or sand to the paint, let the paint completely dry and dispose the cans in your regular garbage.
• compact fluorescent light bulbs and fluorescent lights
• used motor oil, antifreeze and car batteries. We will accept motor oil and antifreeze only at the Health Department. At the Midway and Walthourville sites, we can accept car batteries. Oil and antifreeze have to be in clean, disposable containers
• any household batteries
• printer ink and toner cartridges
• telephone books and large sale catalogs
• hardback books, paperbacks and textbooks
• any prescription and over-the-counter medications (but no hypodermic needles)
• household goods, clothes and shoes (in clean, decent condition, please)
• any items that local schools are recycling through Terracycle. Check with your local school if you want to contribute items for their collections.
Find out more about recycling by calling 880-4888, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or going to www.keeplibertybeautiful.org.