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  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Georgia

    The average American generates 4 pounds of garbage a day, and collectively that adds up to 180 million tons of solid waste per year. Nearly 75 percent of it goes to landfills, but space is running out. Pam Farina, with BFI Waste Systems, recalls that citizens thought landfills would last forever. In 1990, the General Assembly asked communities to start recycling programs that would result in a 25 percent reduction in solid waste disposal. Bill Osburne, the city manager of Douglasville, discusses how his city took the request seriously and created programs that reduced household waste by 40 percent. Yolanda Diaz and Brian and Sean Buck, residents of Douglasville, comment on how recycling has changed their thinking about waste and reuse.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. How does recycling help with the effects of throwing out this much garbage? Give examples.

    2. Make a list of all the products you use in any given day that are either made with recycled material or are themselves recyclable.

    Expansion

    1. Evaluate the recycling program in your school or community, listing all the materials that can be recycled. Survey your class to determine the kind of household recycling programs available to each student. Show your findings in a class display or on a bulletin board.

    Vocabulary

    solid waste: garbage; trash
    landfills: a dump; a site for the disposal of solid waste material and/or recycling of that waste
    disposable: made to be thrown away after one use or several uses
    compost: a decayed mixture of plants (such as leaves and grass) that is used to improve the soil in a garden

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. How does recycling help with the effects of throwing out this much garbage? Give examples.
    Recycling takes garbage and turns it into another raw product to produce something entirely new. It keeps the landfills from becoming full, and it saves money. Yard waste is turned into mulch; plastic bags become new plastic bags; soda cans become new soda cans; paper can be recycled into new paper.

    2. Make a list of all the products you use in any given day that are either made with recycled material or are themselves recyclable.
    Before giving this question to your class, make your own list of items you use each day that fit the above description. Bring to class a few of those items. As a warm-up to this question, ask students which of the items are which: (a) are made of recycled material, or (b) can be recycled? (This may vary by recycling company - check with the ones in your community.) This will help them to know what to look for as they go through their day. You might give a prize to the person(s) who have the longest list: to promote the use of recycled/recyclable product containers."

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