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Could You Recycle That? How We Can Make Lake Hopatcong Greener

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Written by Jacqueline Dillon (Contributing Author): Americans throw out as much as 50 tons of waste every second. This trash is either burned or sent to landfill to rot in the ground. But the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 75% of this rubbish is actually recyclable.

But we generally only recycle 25% of it. During last year’s clean of Lake Hopatcong more than water, fish and algae were found. The lake-wide clean up saw vacuum cleaners, a 50-pound bag of pothole patch and a bowling bowl hauled from the lake. The total treasure trove of items also included over 175 toys, 800 tires and an incredible 4,000 bottles and cans.

Give New Life To Old Items

Recycling or upcycling gives an item a second life while landfills and even Hopatcong Lake are spared the additional waste. The amount of waste already in landfills is huge, but even small recycling efforts can make a significant impact and help preserve the environment and its resources for future generations. But recycling is more than just filling up your collection bin or dropping off items at the Hopatcong Borough Recycling Center on Flora Avenue. It’s about thinking about what we are buying, what is it made from, how long will it last and what will you do with it once it’s finished its primary function. When items are recycled or upcycled, products that would be otherwise discarded and broken down can be turned into something valuable.

Reduce Waste With Upcycled Gifts

American’s spend billions each year on unwanted gifts that will just be thrown away or sit unloved in the back of a cupboard. In a survey, over a third of New Jersey residents admitted to regifting unwanted gifts to save them from going to landfill or because they didn’t want the item and it might be more suitable for someone else. If an item is regifted, then hopefully it will avoid landfill. However, to ensure a gift is well-received, an important first step is to ensure it’s suitable for them. So instead of just picking anything off the shelf, take some time to think about the person’s tastes and needs. There is a wide variety of eco-friendly and upcycled gifts on the market that utilize existing materials and transform them into something completely different. For example, bottle caps can be made into earrings or a bracelet, life vests can be repurposed into an apron, yoga bat or tote bag. The possibilities are endless.

Recycling Tips For Lake Hopatcong Residents

New Jersey has always been at the forefront of trash reduction, it was the first state to introduce recycling. Lake Hopatcong is no different. The community is already working hard to bring more environmental awareness to the borough. Organizing initiatives such as lake clean-up, a senior bus to reduce cars on the road, community garden, tree plantings, annual paper shredding and electronics recycling programs. But there’s so much more that can be done. The great thing about recycling and upcycling is that there are no limits to what can be created. Household items, old clothing and furniture can be donated to a thrift shop or sold at a yard sale. Better still if you are crafty or artistic, you can upcycle them into something completely new. While old wine bottles take one million years to break down, they can be transformed into vases or candle holders, with a bit of creative thinking, old clothes can be upcycled into a completely new outfit. 

As our landfill sites are groaning with all the waste we throw away, we can each make a huge difference by thinking about the sustainability of what we are buying and what will we do with it when we are finished with it. Recycling and upcycling are key to this and a great way of breathing new life into items.

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