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Reducing your own trash stream

By: Eric Fisher

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (abc40) — Not that carrying my own garbage around for a week wasn’t fun, but I was more than happy to get rid of it. To help me do so, we paid Lorenzo Macaluso a visit. He’s a Waste Mangement Expert for the Center of Ecological Technology.

“Recycling is one small thing that people can do that can actually make a difference,” says Macaluso. So I dumped the pile of garbage at his feet and we set to work.

“Bottles, cans, absolutely we can recycle this,” was his first impression. In fact, he claimed that almost all of the materials I had gathered are recyleable.

However, the recycling market is down. Recycling is dependent on demand for materials. And once the economy took a hit, the recycling market did too. Some towns even stopped accepting certain types of materials, and the profits plummeted.

“It’s a commodity driven market,” says Macaluso.

There have been signs that the market is recovering in recent weeks, which Macaluso says in encouraging. But he pointed out that even in bad times, a town can receive $17 per ton of recycled goods. In contrast to that, a town has to pay $70 per ton of garbage that it needs to send away. So even in tough fiscal times, it makes sense both financially and environmentally to recycle.

Once we finished trash picking, we found that 70% of everything I had collected could be recycled. Even plastic grocery bags can now be recycled by returning them to certain grocery stores.

I’d highly reccommend doing this experiment yourself, and perhaps you too will pay close attention to what can be reused!


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