This morning we went with Clark’s Cub Scout den to our county recycling center for an informative tour (in fact, we stayed in one room, so it wasn’t really a tour.) It was amazingly interesting and really just mind-blowing to see the huge quantity of recyclables in the giant warehouse getting scooped up and added to. There are 19 towns that send their recyclables there, so every day sees a whole town or two’s worth of stuff. And it’s so much stuff it’s astonishing. I’m glad it’s being recycled and not sitting in a landfill, but it did make me think about if we could reduce even more. At immediate glance you can tell that Somerset County drinks a lot of milk. So many gallon milk jugs! My favorite interesting facts were the things they could tell by looking at the recycling. Our wonderful guide told us that she can tell when Tide has been on sale because she’ll look out and see a sea of orange laundry detergent. As for bottled water, Poland Spring is the brand of choice in our county. And they can even tell which town drinks the most beer (she didn’t say, but I have a guess!)
She showed us different things that we typically recycle and what they get turned into: plastic water bottles into fleece jackets, laundry detergent containers into Frisbees, and glass into “glassphalt,” which is done in a nearby quarry and we see on the roads. I also learned that my husband is correct and I may leave the lid on my cat food cans. Oh, another fun fact-she likes to add a 4th “R” to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and that is “rinse.” Because, as she pointed out, on a hot day if none of those gallon milk jugs are rinsed out the odor of all them is terrible. Tuna fish cans, too.
At the end we all received pencils that had been made from…blue jeans! It was really interesting and I’m so glad we went. Another “fun” fact-most of the cardboard we recycle goes to China, where it is turned into more cardboard boxes for more products that we buy from there. That made me feel very conflicted-recycling is good, but just think of the oil, energy, and environmental impact of a big tanker ferrying cardboard all the way from the U.S. to China to be recycled. A lot to think about today and very eye-opening.