Think before you toss that recyclable item

By Amy Huber, Off the Wall –

I’ve never been a huge environmentalist. I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, and we were a

careless bunch back then.

We buried or burned our trash. We used leaded gasoline, which was stored underground

in tanks that were made of a single layer of metal (that would eventually rust and leak). Our

factories poured their waste products into creeks, rivers and lakes.

We were far from conscientious, and that’s putting it mildly.

This semester I have been taking geology, a general education class that merely touches

on ill effects caused by human mismanagement.

But one thing I’ve learned is that anything we do now will have lasting effects billions of

years in the future.

April 23-29 is Earth Week. I’m proud to say that I attend a college that is

environmentally aware and does all it can to promote both clean energy and recycling.

MCC has various bins around the campus to compost, recycle and shred various items.

They take this a step further with recycling pens and markers. There is a charging station for

electric cars and a class that teaches renewable energy.

Through the years I have learned about certain things I can do on my own to reduce

waste at home. For instance, I am careful of what I throw in the trash. It might not seem like a

big deal, but if each of us can eliminate a few items per week from their garbage, this adds up to

a substantial amount in a year’s time.

Imagine the impact hundreds of humans together can have by doing this. For instance,

just putting food in a trash bin uses up a vast amount of space over a year’s time span. This food

will eventually end up rotting in a landfill somewhere, inside a plastic bag, which will long

outlive the food inside it.

If I have cereal or bread that goes stale, or vegetables that are beyond human

consumption, I put them outside to feed the wildlife. Where I live we have a large number of

creatures and even the occasional stray cat. These animals appreciate the food I leave out for


How often have we gone to a store and returned home with our items in a

environmentally unfriendly plastic bags. Most people just toss them in the trash. However, both

Walmart and Meijer have bins inside their front doors to collect these bags for recycling.

Numerous area churches run food and clothing pantries and use an amazing number of

them per month. Shiloh Tabernacle more than 3,000 plastic bags every month. It is little effort to

place a huge bag of them in the car trunk and drop them off on our next shopping trip.

Another item many people toss into the garbage is egg cartons. Most of us know someone

who raises chickens, or someone who would know who does.

We are not so citified that we can’t honestly think of an aunt, uncle, cousin, or friend who

has poultry. If those people gather their chickens’ eggs, there is a strong possibility they would

welcome egg cartons.

Just changing our routines that tiny bit over a lifetime can help to sustain the earth for a

while longer.

I once heard a DJ on a Christian radio station remark that he doesn’t recycle, because the

Bible states the earth is going to be destroyed anyway, so it doesn’t matter to him. I gasped.

Was he right? Maybe, maybe not.

But if we don’t do our part here and now, the earth will be destroyed long before we have

the chance to find out.

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