Food for Thought (3/31/16)

Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!

We’ve all heard that phrase, but you may not know that there is a reason that recycling is put last in that order. It is better to reduce the amount of plastic that you use first, then reuse the plastic that you can’t seem to get rid of, and then finally recycle the plastic products that you simply cannot reuse. Therefore, although recycling is not the best option, if you are going to be using plastic it is very important to recycle.

I post about plastic a lot in this blog mostly because I think it is a pertinent issue. I’ve heard of studies with results that conclude there will be more plastic products than fish in the ocean by 2050… that is a drastic and alarming statistic!

Statistics like that are why I am so adamant about reducing, reusing, and recycling. So why focus on recycling instead of reducing and reusing? Well, I think recycling is such an easy way to do your part for the environment and it requires minimal effort which is why it is perfect for college students. Unfortunately, I think people have trouble understanding what exactly is recyclable. When people say “you should recycle plastic…” well, plastic what? Plastic bottles? Plastic bags? Plastic wrap? A lot of the products we encounter daily are made of plastic, but not all of them are recyclable.

So what is recyclable? If the product is recyclable you should see a small triangle with a number (1-7) in the center of it.

Recycling symbol and numbers.  Photo taken from

Recycling symbol and numbers.
Photo taken from

One of these 7 symbols is usually found on hard plastics, like water or shampoo bottles. Plastic bags typically don’t have a symbol, but can be collected and usually can be recycled at your local grocery store, however they do not belong in recycling bins. Fortunately, at Messiah we have a single stream recycling system which means paper and plastic go in the same bin so you don’t have to worry about separating them.

There is a lot more to recycling, but start off by recycling  anything with one of those symbols. You are making a difference. Don’t lose hope. Recycle, keep plastic where it belongs.


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