A Guide to Recycling: 7 Cool Facts

By Jess Penner

We all need to play our part in recycling but sometimes, we may not even know that some things we do may just be plain wrong. Sometimes, it's just genuinely not knowing but it also could be due to being a little lazy or irresponsible. Here are some interesting facts on recycling that you may not know.

1. Aluminum Cans Last For Centuries!

You should always recycle those aluminum pop cans. They can be recycled many, many times without losing its quality despite being melted and reformed repeatedly. If you throw these cans in the garbage, they could be sitting in a landfill for 500 years before it's oxidized! That's just one can; imagine a whole lot of cans being thrown out needlessly that causes resources to be used needlessly. Energy could have been saved and greenhouse gas emissions could have been reduced. Normally, these cans are recycled and will be back on shelves within weeks.

2. Plastic Pollution Kills Marine Mammals

Many people love animals, but unfortunately, they may also be responsible for the senseless deaths of marine life. We've all seen plastic bags and other rubbish floating in water. Sometimes, littering is deliberate while other times, a gust of wind may carry it away (like at the beach) and it lands in the water. One English university did a study and estimated that 100 million marine mammals die from plastic pollution each year! How incredibly sad. Plastic bags alone are thought to kill a million sea creatures a year. Most of these innocent animals would have suffered because the plastic debris would obstruct the digestive tract and depending what was swallowed, it could puncture internal organs.

3. Want To Save 250,000,000 Trees?

It's estimated that by recycling all the newspapers, 250 million trees would be saved each year! Recycling paper will save so many trees and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, paper can only be recycled a few times and then the fibres weaken and it eventually has to be discarded.

4. Fragile Glass? Don't You Believe It!

Everyone knows to be careful with glass. It can break into a million pieces if it falls. When packing anything with glass, we take care to be careful and protect it and write "FRAGILE" on the box. Well, glass, like aluminum cans can be recycled many times without any loss of quality. In fact, if glass makes its way to the landfill, it's estimated that it would take a MILLION years to decompose! For something seen as fragile, it takes a lot to 'break' its spirit!

5. Bones

Before the twentieth century, one of the most recycled things were bones. Bones were used to make buttons. It was also used in making gelatin. Gelatin was used in food processing, paper making, glue as well as in photography.

6. Hershey's Kisses Wrappers

Millions of those yummy Hershey's Kisses chocolates are made every day. Each one is wrapped in shiny foil paper. Did you know that those wrappers can be recycled? You can throw these into a bin that collects aluminum cans. These small pieces of aluminum foil really add up when you consider that millions of the candy are produced and wrapped individually. That's a lot of foil wrap. Most people won't even think to recycle it but rather just toss it in the garbage. Perhaps it's just that the chocolate is so yummy that all logic goes out the window!

7. Hang A Circuit Board Around Your Neck?

Did you know that at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, medallists were given gold, silver and bronze medals that contained recycled electronics? All the medals given contained cathode ray tube glass, circuit boards, computer parts and other e-waste that would otherwise have made their way to Canadian landfills. This was the first time it's happened, with Canada playing a pivotal role in reducing electronic waste. So, the next time you see someone with a circuit board hanging from their neck, don't mock them; you may want to show them a little more respect!