Living Lightly: Please recycle those aluminum pie tins, take-out containers, and cans
A Column Promoting a More Earth-friendly Lifestyle
By John L. Turner
You have undoubtedly learned about the value of recycling as it has become commonplace on Long Island, with every town and village here operating recycling programs. Recycling helps to reduce impacts to landfills, reduces air and water pollution, and results in less energy use.
Especially important is recycling aluminum. Why? Because unlike other materials such as paper, aluminum is infinitely recyclable and requires much less energy to make a new aluminum product from recycled aluminum than from virgin ore (bauxite). For example, it takes 20 times the amount of energy to make a can from virgin ore as it does from recycled aluminum. Said another way, creating new aluminum cans from recycled cans uses 95 percent less energy than making new cans from ore. Or how about: Tossing away an aluminum can wastes as much energy as pouring out half of that can’s volume of gasoline!!
To put this in a broader perspective, using an example from around your home: recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to keep a 100-watt bulb burning for almost four hours or run your television for three hours. This adds up as last year 54 billion cans were recycled saving energy equivalent to 15 million barrels of crude oil — America’s entire gas consumption for one day. These examples make it clear that recycling aluminum is a sure-fire way for you to combat climate change. So, please recycle those aluminum pie tins, take-out containers, and cans!
A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.