Taylor Wilson, Conservation Technician and Outreach Assistant
It's that magical time of the year—spring cleaning time! It can be incredibly rewarding to go through your home, remove the clutter, and empty your junk drawers. Old batteries, a keyboard, a can of old paint, left over products, and of course all the junk mail that gets set on a counter and forgotten about. As satisfying as it can be to Marie Kondo your house, all of that stuff has to go somewhere. This spring make sure your unwanted materials are disposed of properly to keep our soil and water resources clean.
When unwanted materials end up in our soil and water, it can cause detrimental effects to the environment. While the negative affects of hazardous materials are obvious, plastic can also have a strong effect on these resources. In fact, 33% of all plastic products end up in our soil and water according to the UN Environmental Program. Chlorinated plastics leach into the surrounding soil and water causing a myriad of issues with the wildlife that lives there.
Other side effects of this is the wildlife living among our trash and its lack of aesthetic appeal – leaving us with an unsatisfying feeling. Nature often serves as an escape from everyday life, but it feels impossible to forget the manmade world when you’re seeing trash everywhere. Use these tips to make sure you are protecting our wonderful natural resources.
What you can do now:
1. Make sure your stuff makes it to the right place.
This seems obvious, but the majority of litter comes from trash and recycling that hasn’t been securely disposed of. You have probably noticed the increase in paper and plastic drifting around on windy trash days. When taking your bins to the curb, make sure they’re contained and covered. If you’re taking the time to recycle, make sure the recycling gets to the truck!
2. Recycle, Recycle, Recycle.
In addition to making sure your trash is going to the right place, make sure your recycling is as well. According to the EPA, only 8.4% of plastic waste was recycled in 2017. Now is the time to take steps to avoid all that plastic, glass, and other materials going straight into a landfill. Hamilton county has several free ways to dispose of your unwanted materials for free like the recycling center on Pleasant Street in Noblesville, and curbside recycling! For more information on how to recycle, check here.
3. Don’t throw away Hazardous Waste!
There are several household objects that are classified as hazardous waste. Hamilton County supplies residents with a free place to safely dispose of these items in order to make sure they are disposed of properly or recycled, if they can be. Their website has all the information you need to know what can and cannot go to the curb, and where to take other trash.
How do we prevent this in the future?
At the end of the day, no one likes living, working, and relaxing in a cluttered house. Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between clutter and mental health. A better, more cost effective, and healthier alternative lies in a saying you’ve heard before: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. In this article we’ve talked at length about how to recycle, but the real solution to the problem lies in reducing the number of products we need and reusing what we do need before we throw it out. Don’t forget that Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle aren’t just three options, they’re an order of operations. Don’t forget that DIY crafts from old materials, selling used objects online, and buying less are acts of environmentalism!