Recycling, Making a Difference

To recycle or not to recycle that is an important question that we all need to ask

ourselves. As the population continues to grow and the earth gets more and more

crowded with people and their waste it becomes a major issue of whether there will be

enough space on the planet earth for future generations and their waste (trash) too. When

first beginning to collect trash and and counting the trash my attitude was - what

influence could my family make? But as I began to research recycling and how some

wastes pollute the environment my attitude took a change. The attitude turned more

toward concern than what or how much my waste contributed to the big picture.

Below is a chart reflecting the amount of trash that was counted and weighted

during a four-week period beginning the week of Monday, April 24, 2000 and ending on

Sunday, May 21, 2000.

These weights were rounded up to the nearest pound.

Week Aluminum Other Metals Glass Plastics Newspaper White Paper Other Paper Food Prducts and Lftovrs
1- Apr 24-30 10 5 4 5
2- May 1-7
3- May 8-14
4- May 15-21

The Orrs household consists of my wife and three children, ages 9, 5 and 2 (3

boys and 2 girls). During the first week of my collection the oldest child was visiting her

grandparents, which I thought would have made a difference in the amount of trash that

the Orrs would accumulate. There was a major surprise to the household of how much

food waste accumulated over a week, and how the numbers of plastic and glass were

almost equivalent. The food waste can probably be attributed to the fact that Mrs. Orr still

cooks for five people and the children never really eat all their food. When raising three

children you get into a pattern and it has been hard for my wife to change that pattern as

far as the amount of food that is bought and the amount of food she cooks at any one

time. The newspaper was not a great surprise because each week the household receives

the same number of papers, the O’Fallon journal daily, the Sunday Post Dispatch, two

journals and some weeks the papers varied in size. Depending on the media. The large

amount of other paper came as a major shock, This consisted of some color paper and

disposable diapers that the youngest child uses. A lot of this was various bits of junk

mail that is received weekly that was not be counted as white paper or in the newspaper


Paper napkins and towels also added to the grand total, as well. There was a lot

of white paper that was collected, but this was during the time when the computer was

being used a lot due to the youngest daughter and her book report and most of the mail

was in the form of junk.

The first week I weighed two pounds of plastic. This pound consisted of two
Pepsi bottles and water bottles. After the first couple of days, it became more aware of

how much water that was being used and the solution to this was reusing the same

bottles instead of throwing the empty ones out, which also saved money.

The researching period of recycling and learning what all the waste is doing to the our

Planet, was when the biggest concerns became aware of the amount of other trash that

was counted. Because this is the type of trash that cannot be recycled easily.

The disposable diapers and the sanitary products are a major concern because this type of

waste goes directly into a landfill. When further research on the disposable diapers, it

was surprising to find that the disposal of the diapers is not causing the controversy, that

it did several years ago. “According to one study it was found that disposable diapers

cause more trash but cloth diapers use more energy…” (Samuelson 143 - 144).

This would mean that no matter what you use that you are still causing some

damage to the environment in one way or another (The Orr family goes throught about

four diapers a day). You could apply this same thought for the sanitary products that they

would be just as hazardous to the dumpsites as the disposable diaper would be. “Even

though today