Recycling and the Bay

First Step Is To At Least Put Trash in the Trash

We live along a busy street and it is amazing the amount of trash that people toss onto our lawn. That is simply obnoxious, but part of a bigger problem. All the trash that people end up throwing on the street or out the car window is likely to end up in the storm drains or into streams and rivers.

If you are ever down in the Inner Harbor, there is the Trash Wheel by Pier 6 at the mouth of the Jones Falls. It is amazing the amount of trash that it collects that has been washed down Jones Falls, especially after storms. All this trash is not good for the environment and especially not good for the Chesapeake Bay as well.

Reusing and Recycling

If you go down some country roads you will see old refrigerators, old tires and other large items tossed to the side of the road. There are other solutions. Edixon of Maryland Used Appliances points out that many of the used appliances that people get rid of can have a happy second life in someone else’s home with just a bit of work refurbishing them. This means less energy and pollution used for mining, manufacturing and transport of the components and the appliance itself. For the ones that can’t be reused, the scrap yard will recycle the metal to be used again.

Same with old tires. It only costs about a $1 per tire at a tire recycler and tires get chopped up and reused for a variety of things, including being added into the asphalt when paving new roadways.

Household Recycling

You can also help by putting out your paper, aluminum foil, other metal, plastics etc. into the recycling containers that the city or county comes by and picks up once a week. Similar to the used appliances, this is then taken and reused. The benefits are a little bit less clear hear though compared to the used appliances. Some studies have shown that the energy used to collect the recycled trash isn’t that different from the cost of manufacturing it in the first place. Some have even argued that these city and county recycling programs are a net negative.

There is a Nov. 12, 2008 article in Popular Mechanics that said there were problems when recycling first got started and that a lot of the problems have now been worked out. For many items, aluminum in particular a clear environmental and economic benefit to recycle as much as possible instead of making new. For other items it is more expensive to recycle so those just go to the dump. Overall, the math shows it is generally better to recycle for environmental and economic reasons as long as it is done intelligently. However, it is often just as much a political decision depending on the views of the local population.