Houston: It’s Time to Go Green

April 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Edit

About 2% of Houston’s population recycles, compared to 69% in San Francisco and New York

Houston is the worst recycler among the thirty largest cities in the nation. As the fourth largest city, that’s bad news—really bad news. The city picks up garbage at nearly 340,000 households yet less than half of these homes even have recycling bins. Those left without recycling bins have the option of driving to one of only nine drop-off centers, yet few choose to do so.

Recycling takes used materials and creates new products to prevent waste. It reduces the consumption of natural resources, reduces air and water pollution, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions. If these environmental benefits don’t entice you to recycle, here are some more practical reasons:

Recycling Creates Jobs
There’s nothing our economy needs more than jobs. Recycling is a $236 billion a year industry. Comprising of over 1.1 million workers nationwide, there are over 56,000 recycling centers in the country. If Houston expanded its recycling program, there would be a huge influx of work in our community.

Recycling Saves Your Tax Dollars
Recycling reduces trash in landfills. When you recycle you cut down on the costs of trash disposal—these savings go directly to you, the taxpayer.

Recycling and Energy
It takes 95 percent less energy to make an aluminum can from recycled aluminum than to produce a brand new one. Processing raw materials to create new products requires large quantities of energy. Noticeable quantities of energy are saved when these processes are reduced or eliminated.

Recycling and Safety
Recycling keeps toxic materials and chemicals like lead and mercury from ending up in landfills. These pollutants can contaminate soil and leach into our drinking water.

Do Your Part:
Make a positive impact on the environment by taking these simple steps:

1. Just say no to plastic water bottles. Buy a reusable bottle and a Brita filter to save money and valuable natural resources.

2. Start a compost bin in your backyard. Composting kitchen waste provides free, nutritious soil—an invaluable asset.

3. Reuse plastic grocery bags for doggie pooper-scoopers, trashcan liners, or to transport goods.

4. Bring your own bags to the grocery store. When choosing between plastic and paper, always opt for paper.

5. Second-hand is stylish. Buy items from a thrift shop and donate those you no longer use. Goodwill or the Salvation Army are great places to start.

6. Go electronic whenever possible. Whether at work or at home, use the Internet instead of paper.

7. Reuse everything at least once—from zip-lock bags to jelly jars to cardboard boxes.

8. Think before you throw. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. You can sell or donate items you don’t want instead of throwing them away. Sites like freecycle.com and craigslist.com offer sellers and consumers a place to get rid of unwanted goods for free. Every type of electronics can be recycled. Check out Earth911.com to find out where to start.

9. Take a trip to the recycling center. Look up a local recycling center online, put all of your paper, aluminum, glass, cardboard, electronics, and plastic in separate bins and recycle them each week.

10. Sayonara Styrofoam. Styrofoam takes over 100 years to disintegrate and is a known carcinogen. Avoid purchasing or using Styrofoam whenever possible.

Almost everything we consume is recyclable. The one thing that can’t ever be recycled is time wasted being careless. My fellow Houstonians, set an example and be seen going green.

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