By Joan Hicken.
Living sustainably is about making small changes. It is important to remember the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle. Practicing them will reduce the amount of waste you produce. Adopting these habits now will set up a better future for all. The act of recycling fosters positive environmental attitudes and personal responsibility. It creates good habits and inspires us to develop new and better ways of managing and eliminating waste.
At Auburn University, we have a source separated recycling program. There are separate bins for recycling mixed paper and recycling mixed containers, along with dumpsters for recycling cardboard.
Mixed paper includes copy and colored paper, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, newspapers, inserts, phone books and dry food boxes. Mixed containers include plastic bottles, like water and soda bottles, sports drink bottles, milk jugs, shampoo and conditioner bottles, laundry detergent and fabric softener bottles, as well as aluminum cans and steel cans.
Contamination happens when recycling bins are not used as labeled or trash is mixed in with recyclables. It will cause the entire contents of the recycling bin to have to be disposed of as garbage, undoing everybody’s hard work. When this happens the opportunity to recycle is wasted. Placing the wrong items in the recycling bin makes the materials less desirable, less valuable, more expensive to process, and more difficult to manufacture into new products.
Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. After you put your paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, aluminum cans and steel cans into the appropriate recycling bin, it is collected, sent to recycling facilities, and marketed to manufacturers; new products are created from recycled goods. When you purchase products made from recycled materials you are “closing the loop”.
Some of the benefits of recycling include conserving natural resources, saving energy, preventing pollution and reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills. Recycling and recycled products play an important role in our economy and have a positive impact on jobs, wages, and tax collections.
Simple changes can make a difference in reducing the amount of waste we produce and promoting a cleaner, greener campus. Carry a refillable water bottle. Bring your own reusable shopping bags. Say no to plastic bags and plastic straws. Print on both sides of the paper. Never litter. Recycle.
The Waste Reduction and Recycling Department supports the university’s efforts to be more sustainable. The department manages waste contracts on campus and provides waste and recycling services to the university community.
This guest post was written by Joan Hicken, Manager, Waste Reduction and Recycling Department, Facilities Management.
Learn about the SDGs & AU and our contributions related to this post.