Recycling Matters Even During a Pandemic
“Flattening the curve” has been the driving force behind nearly every policy decision the past few weeks. And rightfully so. In order to protect the health and safety of American citizens, we need to stop the spread of coronavirus as quickly as possible.
In working to achieve this critical goal, we’ve seen a temporary reduction in pollution, energy consumption and waste production. Recently, The New York Times reported “huge declines in pollution over major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, Chicago and Atlanta.”
Locally, Franklin County has seen reductions too. The closure of schools, universities, businesses and other commercial facilities has resulted in a reduction in the amount of recyclable and waste material that’s being created. In fact, the amount of material coming to the sanitary landfill is down 8%, or approximately 2,000 tons a week, from just a few short weeks ago.
While this is good news in the near-term, these environmental improvements aren’t permanent.
That’s why I encourage you to continue the sustainability practices you’ve always engaged in and, if you’re inspired, to adopt a few more. There are so many things you can be doing, and just a little bit of effort can make a very big difference.
Take recycling, for example. With coronavirus forcing many of us to work from and spend more time at home, we’re consuming more products packaged in glass, plastic and cardboard. These materials are all recyclable, and Franklin County’s curbside pick-up and drop-off recycling programs (* see Columbus curbside recycling) make recycling as easy and safe as possible.
Recycling right has never been more important. The reduction in the amount of available material has also created an increase in the demand for recyclables like paper and cardboard.
Recycled newspapers, magazines, envelopes and school papers are needed to create products like paper towels and the toilet paper that’s been so hard to find. And recycled cardboard is used to make new boxes so we can avoid shopping in person and instead have goods shipped to our homes.
If we all prioritize recycling now and into the future, we’ll not only help our environment, but we’ll also help our economy. Nearly 400 companies make up central Ohio’s recycling industry, providing jobs and much-needed paychecks to about 5,000 people.
April is Earth Month, so let’s come together – virtually – and commit to helping without leaving our homes. Whether you recycle, compost or just turn off lights, your actions matter.
Before I close, I’d like to express my gratitude to the first responders, healthcare workers and others on the front-line of this battle. This includes SWACO’s very own employees who are working hard every day to keep the landfill open for the health and safety of our community as well as all of the sanitation workers who, day in and day out, are putting their health at risk to ensure our waste and recyclables are collected and disposed of. Thank you to all of them!