Earth Week Field Guide: The Righteous Recycler

Big ups for Earth Day! On Monday, we gave you the skinny on Freegans, and yesterday we profiled Locavores. Today, we’re loving on the Righteous Recycler. You know, that friend who picks your Diet Coke can out of the trash and keeps it until you pass a recycling bin, unplugs all electronics, and composts foodthings in her kitchen.Did you know that every aluminum can that is thrown away will still be around 500 years from now? [Recycling Revolution] — Here are some more facts about our wasteful world that inspire Righteous Recyclers:

  • Trees Are The Bees Knees. Recycling a ton of paper saves 17 trees, which absorb 250 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. It also saves enough oil to power a car halfway across the country and enough kilowatts to light a house for six months. []
  • Too Much Fill, Not Enough Land. There are almost 4,000 landfills in the U.S. Every year, they absorb the 214 million tons of municipal solid waste that’s generated. [Berkeley Lab]
  • Vampire Energy Slayers. Thirteen percent of American household energy use is from electronics we think are off. Yep, even when techno-gadgets are “off,” they’re still sucking power, if you keep ‘em plugged in. Even worse, Americans spend an average of $4 billion per year on these vampiric devices. [Yahoo]

Ready to convert? It’s super easy. Follow the lead of your fave recycler. Here’s how long it’ll take you each day to start being like her:

  • 5 Minutes: Wash and separate your recyclables, and take them to the curb on schedule.
  • 2 Minutes: Learn the recycling rules in your neighborhood.
  • 2 Minutes: Unplug your _______ (fill in the blank: cell phone, iPod, Wii, laptop) when you’re not using it.
  • 1 Minute: Discard all perishables in a kitchen bin for composting. You can use the mulch in that garden you’re going to start, just like Michelle Obama.