Making a Difference – One Piece of Trash at a Time

You’ve probably heard the story “The Start Thrower” by Loren Eiseley at some

point. It’s the one where a man is throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean one

by one and when told it won’t make a difference, he replies, “It made a difference

to that one.” Every day each one of us is also making a difference, good or bad, in

even the most mundane things we do and yet we often don’t realize it. For instance,

when you are throwing a glass bottle into your recyclables, you are saving enough

energy to “run a 100 watt light bulb for 4 hours”(Recycling Revolution). When your

alarm clock needs new batteries and you simply toss the old ones into the garbage,

you are actually contributing to the addition of potentially hazardous compounds

to the air that we breathe and the water that we drink. I try to be mindful about

recycling and the way I discard of my trash because I know that in some small way

my efforts are actually helping this earth and my fellow human beings. I also know

that my small efforts are a part of one big effort that millions of people partake in,

and that makes a big difference!

Because the majority of us are pretty savvy when it comes to the basic recycling

components (cans, paper and such), I thought I would touch upon items that people

usually don’t think about recycling, as well as items that if discarded improperly can

have a negative impact on our environment. After all, the more you know, the more

mindful you can be, thus keeping your environment safer.

Books – Having graduated from college as an English major, it pains me to see books

in the garbage! Used books in good condition can be donated to your local library.

Depending on the library, the books are reused in different ways. Sometimes they

are put on the shelves, sometimes they are sold and the funds are used to support

the library, and sometimes they are given to charity.

Batteries – Among other things, batteries contribute to heavy metals that

potentially may leach from solid waste landfills (EHSO). For hazardous waste

material, such as batteries, compact florescent light bulbs or fertilizers, go to Type in your zip code and you’ll get a list of places you can

bring these items in to recycle. I was surprised to see how many local locations

there are accepting these items. For instance, most libraries accept the alkaline, or

single use batteries. Because it wouldn’t be practical to drive to one of these places

for every battery or light bulb that needs replacing, keep a box in a safe place away

from children or pets where you keep a collection. Once the box is full discard of

them all at once!

Fertilizers: According to many State Departments of Public Health and

Environment, throwing fertilizer in your trashcan is the least desirable method of

getting rid of it. The solution? Only buy what you need and if you have extra see

if a neighbor can use it. Otherwise, you should dispose of it through your town’s

Household Hazardous Waste Collection Program. On a side note, this should make

you think twice about using non-organic fertilizer on your lawn, especially if it is a

place where children and pets play. Fertilizers and pesticides have been linked to

the increase of childhood leukemia and brain cancer.

Medication: So you can’t recycle medication, but you can save the water that we

drink from becoming contaminated. When medicine containing any form of mercury

is flushed down the toilet, it ends up in our waterways (where it comes to us via the

water we drink and the fish we eat) and when thrown in the garbage, it ends up in

the air we breathe. Mercury turns into methylmercury, which is extremely toxic. To

discard of medication properly, take it to your local police department where they

will dispose of it safely.

Even the smallest step forward is a step in the right direction. By recycling and

helping to discard of hazardous waste properly, you are helping to make a positive

difference in both our present and our future.

Mattresses: Yes, even mattress can be recycled instead ending up in a landfill. can give you the information you need to find a place that

accepts them near you. And then check our green mattresses that do not contain

any of the chemicals that you wouldn’t want lying around in a landfill or in your



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