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15 Wonderful & Weird Facts About Recycling

Love a bit of trivia? Check out these interesting and weird facts about recycling!

By Diane Small

We all do it. Or at least try to. And that’s great! But there’s probably a lot about recycling you don’t know.

We found some wonderful and weird facts about recycling that are not only interesting, but also have a bit of a little lesson in there for us all, too. Check them out below!

15 Weird Facts About Recycling You Probably Didn’t Know

1. Product Packaging Isn’t All Equal

When most business owners think about recycled materials, they immediately assume that paper goods are the most common type of materials in landfills. In reality, around 30% of the waste produced by Americans is from product packaging and containers. And only around half of these materials are actually recyclable, which causes a lot of harm to the environment.

When you’re shopping for food, drinks and other supplies, you need to be mindful of the packaging that is on the products you use. Ideally, you need to only use products that come in recyclable – or better, zero – packaging

The takeaway: Making consumer choices based on packaging is a pretty wise thing to do

2. It Takes Literally Centuries for a Disposable Diaper to Break Down

Sure, they’re super convenient. But disposable diapers are a nightmare for the planet! Did you know that on average, one baby will go through 5,000-8,000 diapers in his or her lifetime. I know, I know – cloth diapers are icky to use, but they are reusable – and they don’t do such incredible harm to the planet.

The takeaway: Yep, they may be kinda nasty, but cloth diapers are really the only eco-friendly option if you care about your baby’s future

3. Styrofoam Is Nasty AF

Forget about saying NO to plastic straws. Here’s a fact that will blow your socks off: over 25 billion  – yes, BILLION – styrofoam cups were thrown away last year in the USA alone – and that’s not counting plates, packaging and other stuff made from this toxic crap. It takes Styrofoam a whopping half century to even start to decompose – so avoid it like the plague! If you need a cup, take your own reusable one that can be washed time and time again.

The takeaway: Avoid styrofoam anything like the plague

4. You Can Actually Recycle Some Weird Things

There’s one thing you normally throw in the trash that I’m sure you never thought you could recycle. And that thing is kitty litter. Well, depending on the litter you buy, cat litter can be totally compostable. For example, some brands, like Natusan, make their rocks from organic materials, which means you can compost your litter easily. Of course, the benefits to mother nature from composting range from enriching soil health, to water conservation.

The takeaway: If you want to be a truly eco friendly cat owner, compostable litter is a must!

5. The Only Food Crisis Is A Waste Crisis

Remember when Monsanto told us we ‘needed’ GMO foods to ‘feed the world‘? Well, get this: nearly half of the food in the U.S. goes to waste – approximately 3,000 pounds of the stuff per second! That’s just nuts. If you have leftover food, why not try some of these recipes to put it to good use?

The takeaway: Learn how to cook up leftovers. Freeze any food that’s still fresh that you can’t eat right away. Plan your shopping so you don’t end up with excess food.

6. Plastic Bottles Aren’t Recycled As Much As You Think

Many of us think, ‘oh, I’ll buy a plastic bottle of water now. It’s fine, ‘cos I’ll toss it in the recycling bin later.’ Well, guess what? Only 23% of disposable water bottles are recycled. That’s for many reasons: because people don’t actually put them in recycling bins, for one, but mainly because much of the recycling rubbish developed countries ship to poorer countries actually gets dumped instead of recycled, because it’s not sorted or processed correctly, or due to issues in the supply chain.

The takeaway: Buy a reusable bottle and take it with you everywhere!

7. Glass Isn’t That Eco Friendly

Sure, it’s a heck of a lot better than plastic, since it’s not toxic to the environment. But the key to making glass eco friendly is to reuse and recycle it. Did you know a modern glass bottle would take up to a MILLION years or more to decompose − and even longer if it’s in landfill? Yipes! Sure, at least it’s not toxic, like styrofoam or plastic, but be sure you recycle that stuff!

The takeaway: Always recycle glass – whether it’s a bottle you can return to refill, old wine bottles or broken glasses.

8. Recycling Is Really Cheap

On average, it costs $30 per ton to recycle trash, $50 to send it to the landfill and $65 to $75 to incinerate it. So why don’t we recycle more? Seriously…why not?

The takeaway: There’s really no reason for all municipalities to have solid recycling schemes in place.

9. That New Phone Isn’t Worth It

Does your phone company upgrade you nearly every year? Do you love yourself a new gadget? Addicted to tech? You should know that every year, over 50 million tons of e-waste (electronic waste, such as that from computers and cell phones) is created. This is basically akin to filling a line of garbage trucks halfway across the planet!

The takeaway: As long as your gadgets still work, keep them! And when they die, dispose of them in an e-recycling receptacle.

10. Buy Better, Buy Less

Ok fashionistas: you probably know this already, but it doesn’t make it ok! Over 11 million tons of recyclable clothing, shoes and textiles are disposed into landfills each year. That’s just mind blowing, especially given how many people and/or companies could put those textiles to good use.

The takeaway: First of all, buy better and buy less. Fast fashion is clearly not sustainable for this planet any longer. If you do need to get rid of clothing, donate, give away or sell it. It is not trash!

11. The Most Recycled Thing Was 100% Natural…And Weird

Guess what one of the most commonly recycled materials was back in grandma’s day? Bones! Yes, really. Bones were often used for making things like buttons, hair combs and gelatin, which was used in food processing, photography, and glue and paper making. ‘Rag and bone’ men used to go door to door collecting those items to recycle.

The takeaway: Our grandparents knew: waste not, want not! There’s a lesson there.

12. Thanks, But No Thanks?

Talking of weird facts about recycling! Did you know companies such as Scarlet Girl in Oregon and Love Honey in the UK specialize in recycling used sex toys. We don’t know how that works, but we’re really hoping they’re broken down and washed thoroughly before being transformed into something entirely new, like rubber soles!

The takeaway: Just about anything can be recycled

13. Recycling Means Jobs

Hey, politicians! Check this fact out: recycling, reusing, and composting creates 6-10 times as many as 30 times more jobs as landfills and incinerators do. So what’s your excuse for continuing to incinerate?

The takeaway: Recycling is good for the economy!

14. Tiny, But Significant

The Hershey chocolate company uses about 133 square miles of aluminum to wrap the 20 million Kisses they make every day. While the wrap is recyclable, most people don’t bother to recycle such tiny pieces, which means ultimately, over 100 square miles of aluminum is not getting recycled from these teeny chocolates alone.

The takeaway: Every single little bit counts!

15. Blame ‘Progress’

Thanks to the Industrial Revolution, traditional knowledge of artisanal skills, such as weaving and embroidery, became obsolete as machines took that work over. What’s more, leftover and scrap fabrics that were once considered valuable and reusable became trash.

The takeaway: Support zero waste fashion brands like these, which aim to use every scrap of fabric they generate.

Diane Small

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