Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle…..these are the 3 R’s we are now familiar with to help out the environment. After chaperoning a preschool field trip to “The Dump” recently in Johnston, RI (officially known as the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation), I learned that there is a 4th R in the mix now: Rot! Composting is very important these days, as the RIRRC only has about 25 years left before it runs out of space to store Rhode Islanders’ trash. We can help add time to that estimate if we focus on doing the 4 R’s faithfully. There is no plan so far as to what is going to happen once they run out of space. We will either have to find more space in Rhode Island for more landfills, or we will need to take our trash out-of-state, which will be very costly for us and the State. The field trip was great, and I think every person from Rhode Island should visit the RIRRC to become more aware of how things are run there and what they need to do to be more environmentally responsible. The trip consisted of a tour of the center, an answer and question session, a small hands-on museum for kids, and a bus ride through the landfill (all the way up to the top of “Mt. Trashmore” where you can see from Providence to Newport). The kids had a blast, and they learned so much (although I think the adults learned even more!). Here is what I learned from the tour:
* The landfill was established in the early 70s to keep RI trash localized and make the cities cleaner.
* The landfill ONLY accepts trash from RI, and it is considered a sanitary landfill.
* The landfill is 250 feet high, and it is almost full and will be capped shortly.
* The RIRRC is digging a new area for another landfill that should last about 25 years, but that is all the room they have at the RIRRC (after that, who knows????)
* The RIRRC makes the most money from recycling items (so keep the paper, plastic, and glass coming!!!)
* Towns in RI get money back each year from recycling.
* You can personally take hazardous materials (car batteries, motor and cooking oil, tires, etc.) to the RIRRC to be disposed of for a fee.
* All towns send their trash to the RIRRC landfill except for Tiverton, which has its own landfill.
* The RIRRC uses gases produced from the trash to create energy for power plants!
I try to do a pretty good job with reducing, reusing, and recycling, but know I can always do more. I have all the trendy bags to take to the grocery store (even the small ones that fit in my purse), but I am not always faithful about using them. The guilt always sets in when I hear “paper or plastic.” Ugh! The answer is neither!!! I read a book in book club called, “The World Without Us” by, Alan Weisman. Reading that was a huge wake-up call, especially about plastics and using plastic bags. Read it if you get time!
Today was a good reminder about being environmentally responsible. I will be better about using my reusable bags, and I will also start composting (which is something I’ve been meaning to do anyway). I heard you can get nice compositing boxes at Ocean State Job Lot or Lowes, so I will be checking that out. I will also be better about putting things into the recycle bins appropriately. I learned today that the cardboard milk containers I’ve been recycling should go in the BLUE (plastic/metal) bins, not the GREEN (paper) bins! They actually have thin metal lining in the cardboard. Whoops! I also learned that you cannot recycle the cardboard from soda boxes or frozen meals. They have chemicals in them. Whoops again! Lastly, I learned you should not recycle wire hangers, Capri Sun pouches, or ANY plastics labeled 3-7. Rhode Island currently ONLY takes #1 & #2 plastics, but next year they are hoping to take 3-7. Keep an eye out for that news!
Off to buy a composting bin for the backyard, and to refill my purse with my reusable bags! Practice those 4 R’s faithfully!!! We want Rhode Island (and the Earth) to be a better place and last longer!!!
* How are you with recycling? What can you do to improve your carbon footprint? You can calculate you carbon footprint here