April 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm , by Julie Bain
I was on the Today Show this morning to talk about recycling, etc., as part of their “Green Week” series. (Check out the segment here.) Al Roker told me that he’d recently gotten a citation for putting the wrong kind of plastic in his recycling bin. It can be confusing! He also told me his grandmother always believed in using natural products for cleaning, such as lemon and vinegar. Grandma always did know best!
I learned a few eye-openers while working on this segment:
• Hand-washing your dishes isn’t so virtuous after all. In fact, most people who hand-wash use about four times more water than a dishwasher! A standard Energy Star rated machine only uses about six gallons for the regular cycle. Don’t pre-wash or use the pre-rinse cycle. It’s unnecessary and a waste. Just scrape those dishes, fill it up and turn it on!
• You can’t recycle everything. Used pizza boxes are a big no-no. They’re always stained with grease, and that grease can contaminate a whole batch of recycled cardboard. Most centers also don’t accept those hard plastic takeout containers. But you can reuse those for nails and other hardware in the garage. The hard plastic caps on water bottles are a different type of resin, and they can also pop off the bottles when they’re crushed, which can injure workers. Plastic grocery bags can get caught in the machinery at recycling plants, so return those to your local grocery store for recycling. And I always return my wire hangers to my local dry cleaner, who reuses them.
• Most water bottles are not recycled. In fact, I was horrified to learn that some 38 billion of them end up in landfills every year! Plus, so much energy is used to make the bottles, fill them and transport them—sometimes halfway across the world. Then it takes 20 seconds to glug down the water and toss it. Sometimes a bottle of water is the only thing that’s convenient. But try to save it for the recycling bin. It can be tough to break the bottled water habit. But in honor of Earth Day this week, I’m pledging to carry my stainless steel reusable water bottle, with filtered tap water, every single day. Want to join me? It’s one small way we can all make a difference for a cleaner world.
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