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ST. MARYS — Local third-grade students learned recycling lessons on Friday.
Bonnie Wurst with the Auglaize County Solid Waste Management District spoke to third-grade students at St. Marys Intermediate School on the importance of reducing their amount of trash.
“I want to do more today than just talk about what we recycle, I want to talk more about why we recycle,” Wurst said. “One of the reasons we recycle is to reduce the amount of trash that we make.”
An average person, she noted, uses four or five pounds of trash every day.
“In a year, you would make over 1,200 pounds of trash, each and every one of us,” she said. “Two people’s trash would weigh as much as a car weighs. We need to think about making less trash.”
Wurst explained that trash goes into a landfill — a hole in the ground, with each layer of trash covered with a layer of dirt. Wapakoneta and St. Marys, she added, filled up their own landfills and now they have to pay to put their trash in the landfill in Celina.
“If we can make less trash, it’s good for our environment, it’s good for our city, it’s good for ourselves and it’s cheaper,” she said. “We need to think about reducing our trash, we need to make less trash.”
The different ways to make less trash, she noted, are reusing and recycling.
“When we recycle, we’re not going to have to bury our stuff in a landfill ... We’re also going to reduce the amount of natural resources that we use,” Wurst said, noting natural resources are used to make every manmade item. “We’re going to consider the natural resource of trees, we’re going to consider the natural resources called ores ... I’m going to talk about sand, and I’m going to talk about the natural resource called crude oil ... Those are the natural resources that I’m going to talk about that have to do with recycling.”
Wurst then brought out objects that can be recycled and from what natural resources they are born — such as cans coming from bauxite and iron ore, types of rock.
“It’s very hard to get that iron out of that rock to make the steel can,” she said. “When we recycle those cans, we not only reduce the amount of trash but we reduce the amount of natural resources we use so they don’t have to dig up those special rocks and they don’t have to use all the energy and all that equipment in their factory to make the cans. It’s easier to take those old cans and melt them down.”
Wurst also noted paper coming from trees.
“Every time they make brand new paper, it’s using a lot of trees,” she said. “What we need to do is recycle our paper so they don’t have to keep cutting down trees.”
Wurst said to also help, people can buy recycled paper.
She then noted plastic, adding plastic is the hardest thing to recycle because there are so many types of plastic.
“Some of it will melt easily and some of it won’t,” Wurst said, noting in Auglaize County only two types of plastic can be recycled — recycling triangles with No. 1 and with No. 2. “The only kind of plastic that we’re allowed to recycle in our county is plastic that is marked with a one or a two.”
When recycling plastic bottles, Wurst encouraged residents to remove the caps and to rinse out the bottles.
Plastic, she noted, is made from crude oil.
“Once they get crude oil out of the ground, they take to a factory called a refinery ... At that factory, they take the crude oil after it comes out of the ground and they put it through a whole bunch of processes,” she said, noting gasoline, motor oil, diesel fuel and plastic are all made from crude oil. “Our lives wouldn’t be the same without our vehicles ... We’d have a hard time doing that if we didn’t use the fuel made from crude oil, so when we recycle our plastic, we help save crude oil and the plastic doesn’t have to get buried in the landfill, so we’re reducing our trash.”
Paper, Wurst said, will stay in a landfill for 50 years before it rots completely, while cans will be there for 100 years and plastic for 500 years. Glass, which is made from sand, will never rot, so it will stay in a landfill forever.
“We really need to try to keep our glass out of the landfill if we can because we reduce the trash and we won’t use the natural resource of sand,” Wurst said.
There is the possibility of using up all the natural resources as well.
“Always remember you’re saving trees when you recycle paper, and remember you’re saving the crude oil so you’ve got more gasoline and diesel fuel for your cars when you recycle your plastic,” Wurst said. “We don’t have to worry about using up too much sand, but we do need to worry about burying all this stuff in our landfill. That’s just not good for our Earth.”