Recycling is an important aspect of mindful living and respect for our environment. The practice has become ubiquitous since the early 1970s, picking up steam with the environmental movement that lead to designating April 22 as Earth Day in 1970. At that time and through the 1980s, New Jersey and surrounding states found themselves in a serious solid waste crisis that took years to get under control. New Jersey passed a law in 1987 making recycling mandatory; yet looking around our communities, it is clear we can do better. We are still making the same mistakes with recycling, from inserting soiled pizza boxes into the bins, to wrapping all our recycling in large plastic bags, to recycling containers and materials that aren’t accepted. Did you know that mixing unacceptable materials with acceptable materials can render a load unacceptable? This mixing practice makes the recycling process economically infeasible for communities and the contractors who must collect and separate the materials. Yet, done correctly, recycling is one of the most important and easiest ways we can make our environment a little bit cleaner and more sustainable.
Better than recycling is making a commitment to adopt buying habits that reduce the amount of materials that then need to be recycled or otherwise disposed of. With some research and investigation, we can find ways to reuse and repurpose many of the material things we have and use, including clothes, personal products and household items.
Here are some useful resources for recycling information.
The New Jersey DEP website, https://www.nj.gov/dep/dshw/recycling/faq.html#4, provides a list of Frequently Asked Questions about recycling.
Upcoming Shredding Days http://www.mcianj.org/filestorage/119/304/2021_SHREDDING.pdf.
Here is a handy guide for Mercer County recycling information, including where to bring items not easily recycled, like clothes, footwear, and many household products—Beyond the Bucket: https://www.mercercounty.org/home/showdocument?id=16224.
And, as of May 2022, the terms of S864 take effect. This law prohibits the use of single-use plastic and paper bags in all stores and food service businesses statewide. Find more information here, https://www.nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/20201104a.shtml.
When we get back to church, the Earth Ministry team plans to continue discussions begun before the pandemic about how we as a church community can implement better ways to recycle and reuse materials. For example, we plan on placing collection boxes with TerraCycle for atypical recyclable items such as toothpaste tubes, individual coffee brew cups, batteries and more. Stay tuned for the conversation.