I was standing on top of millions of tons of rotting garbage and discarded material at one of our local landfills.
The putrid odor was overwhelming and triggered my gag reflex a few times. I accompanied the Stark County health inspector as he conducted his weekly landfill inspection.
He could see I was struggling and reminded me to breath through my mouth and not my nose. He told me that after a while you will get used to it.
I thought to myself, "Used to what?" The horrible odor or the sight of thousands of tons of useful material piling up that could be recycled or repurposed? A baby stroller, aluminum ladder, sofa, mattress, stuffed animal, a storm door, pop cans, plastic bottles, a bicycle, and lots of cardboard.
The cardboard is on sharp increase due to the increase in home shopping.
Everything you could imagine was being dumped at the landfill from over 200 semi-truck loads each day. The trucks were lined up one after another waiting for their turn to dump.
The biggest challenge by far appeared to be the single-use plastic grocery bags that were blowing in the wind and getting stuck in nearby trees, presenting a real problem to remove.
On the other hand, Americans love the convenience of plastic shopping bags. There are more than 100 billion plastic bags produced each year requiring 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture.
I watched as hundreds of birds and seagulls gathered around the open face of the landfill to feed off the newly dumped trash.
Americans produce on average 4.4 pounds of trash per person per day and recycle 1.5 pounds per person per day.
As I looked up, to catch my breath, I noticed that I could see for miles in every direction.
“Wow!” I exclaimed. “Such a beautiful view!”
The health inspector caught my excitement and told me that the landfill is one of the highest points in Stark County and has over 900 acres of land available to collect trash for the next 60 years or longer.
I will admit that one of my favorite days of the week is garbage and recycling collection day. I get to place all of the garbage and recycling at the curbside, and it disappears by the time I get home from work.
The popularity of waste and recycling collection services is the highest ranked city service in most residential surveys across the country. This is no surprise.
After serving as mayor for 14 years in the city of North Canton and director at the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Recycling District for 18 years, I can attest that by recycling you can make a difference in your community and in your world.
One visit to a landfill will convince you that recycling is not a waste.
David Held is the executive director of the Stark-Tuscarawas-Wayne Recycling District and the former mayor of North Canton.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Commentary: Does recycling make a difference or is it a waste?
Source : https://news.yahoo.com/commentary-does-recycling-difference-waste-102406179.html611