In the late 1980’s, someone noted that yearly, we throw away enough glass bottles and jars to refill the original twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center every two weeks.
That’s a lot of waste.
Recycling is an obvious alternative. But how to get started?
What to keep for recycling—all glass bottles and jars.
What not to keep—light bulbs, window panes, anything Pyrex. These are made from a different process and can’t be combined with scrap bottle and jar glass.
Zero waste—All recycled bottles and jars are used to make more glass.
Less pollution—Glass decomposes slo-o-o-wly. No joke—A discarded beer bottle could still be trashing the planet ten centuries from now.
Pollution, again— Making glass entirely from raw materials, (white sand, soda, lime), produces a certain amount of air and water pollution. Use of recycled glass in the mix reduces this pollution by 20% and 50% respectively.
Energy—Use of recycled glass reduces energy consumption ¹ by approximately 32%. Because we produce a lot of glass year by year, that energy savings is no small matter.
Preparation—includes setting up a convenient home routine. A cardboard box hidden in a closet, a plastic trash can somewhere outside. Sort bottles by color: clear, green, brown. Remove lead collars, corks, and any metal caps that can’t be removed magnetically. Don’t worry about paper labels. Time expenditure after set-up = 20 minutes a week.
Rinsing—Sometimes recommended, isn’t rigidly required. Check with the recycling plant.
$$$$—Does your recycling plant pay for glass? If so, you could maybe do a little fundraising for a favorite institution.
Go mildly political: Support so-called “bottle bills” which require consumers to pay a deposit for glass bottles, refunded when bottles are returned. States which already have such laws on the books report 90% compliance with accompanying 50% reduction of litter.
Become a wonk: Glass Packaging Institute ² offers free pamphlets on glass recycling.
We ‘re interconnected with everything. Everything we do/don’t do affects everything else.
Separation or isolation is an illusion.
Our humble choices, person by person, have large cumulative effect for better or worse.
Big problems are solved most cost effectively at the grass roots level, as each private citizen does his/her bit.
It’s similar to the ways of an army ant colony—having common purpose, army ants can consume a six-ton elephant down to the bone.
Each individual ant takes a few little bites.
¹ Using all new materials, 7600 BTUs of energy are needed to produce a single pound of glass.
² 1801 K Street NW, Washington D.C. 20006