Lakewood's Recycling Habits
On October 14th of this year, select Lakewood streets received city-issued blue recycling bins. These new blue bins will be implemented using a three-phase process with phases two and three to occur in 2014 and 2015, respectively. This program is just another step forward with the recycling habits of Lakewood residents. Recycling and re-using items is one of the easiest and best ways to help our planet. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produced 4.4 pounds of waste per day in 2011. Out of that waste, about 1.53 pounds was recycled or composted, or just under 35%. In 2012, the city of Lakewood recycled just over 50% of the waste generated by residents. This is an impressive number and Lakewood should be proud of the success of its green initiatives.
Recycling is as much a civic duty as voting. It is the responsibility of the citizens in the world to do their part to ensure smooth running for the planet. Studies have shown how certain behaviors, like recycling, act as social bonding mechanisms. Another way of saying this is that recycling is something the community does as a community. In an effort to help quantify the success of the new blue recycling bins, I tracked the bin use in my neighborhood for the first five weeks of the implementation. During those first five weeks of the new bins being in circulation, there was a slight increase in the number of households putting out recycling for curbside pick-up. Of twenty-four houses tracked, only two houses never used their recycling bin over the course of the five weeks. By the end of the first five weeks, the ratio of recycling bins to garbage bins was 1:1.2, whereas in week one the ratio was 1:2.7.
This is a small improvement, but all improvement should be lauded as it is one step closer to the city’s ultimate goal of recycling over 60% of waste by 2016. However, this goal should be even higher for the residents of Lakewood. The true goal should be to live a zero-waste lifestyle. While recycling decreases the amount of greenhouse gases created in the disposal process, re-using and reducing are the best ways to truly make a big difference. Being zero-waste is not an easy task and it will not happen overnight, but the payoff for our pocketbooks and our planet are worth the effort.
With the New Year right around the corner, I encourage all residents of Lakewood to take charge of the waste production in our lives and challenge ourselves to waste as little as possible.
Charlotte Petrie is a life-long Lakewood resident who works in non-formal education in addition to instructing group exercise for adults and kids. She loves living in Lakewood and thinks the "mistake on the lake" is one of the best cities in the world. Currently she is working on her master's and a component of the program is community engagement. As she continues on, she would like to write articles to help engage her Lakewood community in conservation and sustainability.
I'm a life-long Lakewood resident. I work in non-formal education in addition to instructing group exercise for adults and kids. I love living in Lakewood and I think the mistake on the lake is one of the best cities in the world. Currently I'm working on my master's and a component of the program is community engagement. As I continue on, I would like to write articles to help engage my Lakewood community in conservation and sustainability.