Plastic. It’s all around our homes. We open the refrigerator door: plastic. We open our cleaning supply cabinet: plastic. We go out to our garage or storage shed: plastic. Everywhere we look plastic is an important part of our day to day lives.
Plastic is a highly versatile material. Made of crude oil and natural gas with a mixture of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen, plastic is extraordinarily diverse. From contact lenses to water bottles, to computers, to airbags, plastics can take on many forms.
There are seven types of plastic ranging from lightweight plastics to heavier duty hard plastic. Why has plastic become such an integral part of our day to day lives? Plastic prevents waste of perishable foods and helps protect products from damage or breakage. Some plastic products are durable and easily reusable. Depending on the type of plastic, it may take over 450 years for plastic to even begin to break down in a landfill, and even then, that number is not guaranteed. Plastic never really goes away either. It simply breaks down into smaller and smaller granules of plastic until it’s no longer visible to the naked eye, but it is still present in the soil. Since plastic is such an important part of our daily lives, it also very important to remember that plastic can be recycled!
How do we recycle plastic? Since there are seven major types of plastic, it’s important to know what our county accepts and how to identify what type of plastic each container is. Our local convenience centers accept types 1 and 2 plastics. To identify the type of plastic, flip the container over. Look on the very bottom or on the side near the bottom of the container and locate a triangle configured with chasing arrows. Inside this triangle will be numbers 1-7. If the arrow has a one or two, then those containers are recyclable. It’s probably safe to say that about 85% of your plastic in your house is a one or a two.
Another significant plastic product to consider recycling is our plastic shopping bags. These bags can be conveniently be dropped off at Wal-Mart, Food City, or Lowe’s. Each store has an area to place your plastic shopping bags. So drop of those plastic shopping bags and invest in some reusable shopping bags.
By eliminating these types of plastic from your trash flow, you will significantly reduce the amount of waste that you are sending to the landfill. So, let’s get recycling!