Welcome to this week’s installment of the BayBlog Question of the Week! Each week we'll take a question submitted through the Chesapeake Bay Program website and answer it here for all to read.
This week’s question comes from Colleen, who asks: How is the Bay harmed if we don’t recycle?
Reducing our waste by recycling is a huge help to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers. We're not just talking about recycling your typical bottles, cans and paper -- you can recycle all kinds of materials: water, food, cooking oil and even electronics, to name just a few.
When you don't recycle, you create much more waste that has to be treated or disposed of in some way. This includes something as simple as water. When it gets dumped into our sewer systems, it requires treatment that uses a lot of energy and money. If too much water goes to wastewater treatment facilities, those facilities will eventually need to be upgraded, which costs even more.
To save water, all you need to do is put a bucket in your shower or sink to catch the water from your faucet while it warms up. You can then use that water in plants, as drinking water for pets, or in regular household cleaning. You can also install a rain barrel in your yard to recycle rainwater that would normally run off your yard into the nearest storm drain.
Putting food down the garbage disposal is another example of creating waste out of something that can be recycled. Instead of letting food and grease get into your septic system or public sewer by putting it down the disposal, try “recycling” it by creating a compost pile. Composting reduces waste in landfills and is useful for fertilizing and enriching gardens
Cooking oil is one thing many people overlook when thinking about recycling. Some people just toss it down the drain, but this can be very hazardous because it can build up in sewer lines over time and cause harmful, expensive bloackages. There are facilities that will accept used cooking oil; find one near you at Earth911.org.
Recycling anything ultimately helps the Chesapeake Bay and the environment as a whole. Recycling cans, bottles, paper and other items reduces the amount of waste that travels to landfills, helping to make those landfills last longer so no new landfills need to be built. And properly disposing of recyclables reduces the amount of trash that can get into our waterways.
If you’re not sure about what can be recycled or where you should take it, you can check Earth911.com to find centers near you.
Do you have a question about the Chesapeake Bay? Ask us and your question might be chosen at the next Question of the Week! Feel free to suggest other questions that will encourage reader discussion as well!