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January 5, 2010

Press Republican

Let's make 2010 the year we all adopt the recycling habit

The other day, at a break room at a local business, an employee walked in to get a snack out of a vending machine. He noticed three waste receptacles set up: two for garbage and one for recyclables. The one for the recyclables was clearly marked: "For recyclable cans and bottles only. Do not put garbage in here." It could scarcely have been more obvious.

Yet a glance inside that container clearly showed that some of the employees had either not noticed or not heeded the sign. The contents appeared to be about an equal collection of discarded food and paper and recyclable containers.

What would it take to get people to take more seriously their responsibility to help save the planet?

The state is doing its part, having taken a giant leap forward in compelling its citizens to recycle by expanding the Bottle Bill. Now, carbonated beverages aren't the only ones being reused. Because the nickel deposit now applies to water bottles, too; millions and millions of plastic containers will be kept into the stream of use rather than relegated to our precious ground.

That is indeed a giant step, but it doesn't solve the problem. We need to maximize our efforts at reusing materials instead of sending them off to the landfill. Each individual must be made to see the advantage of saving Mother Earth, sparing her from the disastrous results of our own sloth or unconcern. We must all join hands in seeing that we do everything we can to keep the abuse to a minimum.

The most important thing is our attitude, of course. If people see no particular benefit in alleviating the stress on the ground, there is no gain in talking about specifics. Even the most passionate and effective ways of communicating the need are lost on some people.

But there is hope. Two or three decades ago, almost everyone accepted co-mingling of cigarette smoke with the air we all breathe as a fact of life. Little was made of it. Now, public awareness of the dangers of smoke have resulted in the commonly accepted segregation of smoking from the comings and goings of daily life.

The same kind of awareness of the benefits of recycling must be forged.

The local League of Women Voters chapter has prepared a list of items that can be reused or recycled locally. It's contained in a pamphlet called the North Country Green Pages, conceived and published by the League of Women Voters of the Plattsburgh Area and Casella Waste Systems Inc. It is available at the league's Web site.

Let's make 2010 a year of significant progress in changing the mind-set of people who haven't yet adopted good recycling habits. Recycling is now such an easy alternative to tossing items out in the trash.

And thanks to the bigger, better Bottle Bill, it's even lucrative.


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