Earth Day 2011

22 04 2011

Earth Day began on April 22, 1970 in the United States and went international in 1990. It is a day that is “intended to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment.”

It would be difficult to calculate the number of people who actual recycle because many take their waste to other places because curbside service is not offered. There are estimates in percentages that 77% of the US recycles (which I would beg to differ with if you saw how many people on my block did NOT participate in fantastic curbside service). Australia is only 7%. Ireland is approximately 90%. Of the United States figures, 88% of the eastern part of the US recycles, with 86% of the western part, followed by 70% of the Midwest, followed by 68% of the south (come on Texas–we’re at the BOTTOM of ANOTHER list?).

The Woodlands, Texas, my current residence, provides wonderful opportunities to recycle practically everything. At curbside, the only things they don’t pick up are plastic bags, shrink wrap, Styrofoam, computers, TVs and electronics, ceramics, Pyrex, windows and mirrors. We have two recycling complexes located conveniently in the community. Out of the previous list, the only things they don’t take are the ceramics, Pyrex, windows and mirrors. Printer ink cartridges can be returned to a bin in the entrance way of both Best Buy and Target (there may be others, but those are the ones about which I know). Within the city of Houston, twice a year, an H.E.B. grocery store (pharmacy) who will take all prescription medication not being used in order to save our drinking water from being contaminated. I would love to see some place close start taking alkaline batteries. Although we try to use rechargeable ones, I have been collecting the ones I used to use and they are waiting for some place to appear so I can recycle them.

Earth Day The Woodlands 2009

Yet, for the ease and convenience our community provides to our residents, only about 25% of the houses in my neighborhood use their recycling bins. There are a few of us who actually have two recycling bins. Sometimes two bins are not enough for me. I have tried to find reasons why my neighbors would opt out, but either these people don’t recognize the need for recycling or they are just too lazy to develop the habits necessary. It is not a difficult process, but does require a change in habits. Some people refuse out of protest because they don’t believe in climate change.

This isn’t about climate change. This isn’t about Al Gore. This isn’t about the profit some corporations are making off the “green” label. You are a homeowner of planet Earth. Would you let your “home” become dilapidated, in disrepair, rotting away without performing at least routine maintenance? How would you feel when you saw your neighbors not doing things to keep up the maintenance of their “home” which then decreased the value of your home? Think of recycling as basic maintenance of planet Earth.

The world’s bad habits have caused some of these things to happen:

1. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Located in the central North Pacific Ocean, estimated to be twice the size of Texas. Plastic is breaking down, which the fish are now eating–fish that might make it to your dinner plate some day. Add this on top of the mercury toxicity levels in fish. There is now a possibility that the nuclear waste from Japan’s natural disaster will make its way here. We will then have nuclear, glowing fish.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

2. The Atlantic Garbage Patch: Less well known, it made the news in 2010. The highest concentrations of plastic extend from Virginia to Cuba.

Atlantic Garbage Patch

3. Prescription drugs in our water: These are being passed through the urine and also from people putting their unused or expired pills down the toilet bowl. It includes antibiotics, anticonvulsants, hormones, steroids, and mood stabilizers.

Go to this link to see the list of drugs found in the drinking water in several cities across the United States:

Polluted Drinking Water

4. Corporate and country irresponsibility has contaminated air and water supplies and has been responsible for numerous spikes in disease clusters.

While taking on the world is never an easy task, we can break it down. We can claim personal responsibility of what we do in our lives. While I try to be responsible every day in practicing what I preach, there is always room for improvement.

Commit to cleaning up your home, planet Earth, today, before the next landfill is built behind the real house in which you dwell.

For more interesting recycling facts, please visit:



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