As a recent graduate with a master of science degree in geology, returning home to the little town I grew up in, I found myself appalled at the recycling program-resources available in Pendleton.
In the journey through my college and graduate experience, I have lived in many cities where being green is essential and readily accessible.
Being a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and soon to be employed by the Federal Department of Energy's carbon sequestration project, I understand how important it is to recycle and the impact to humanity's home, planet Earth.
On Sept. 12 the East Oregonian had an article listing the recycling report for Oregon as a whole and included Umatilla County. The source states that a "Department of Environmental Quality report" claims that there was a 37.9 percent recovery rate.
First, I would like to know where this number comes from, as the government page for DEQ does not offer this report easily. Secondly, I doubt this number has a huge contribution from the city of Pendleton itself other than paper recycling from the hospitals and offices. The main issue is that all of the residential areas in Umatilla County combined create a significant amount of waste from our daily living.
Pendleton Sanitary Service, at the request of the Pendleton Round-Up Association, closed the only recycling center for Round-Up, but still kept its center open in Rieth for recycling pickup. If there's a time that recycling should be encouraged, Round-Up was the perfect chance to save so much garbage. This can be done by putting up simple cardboard recycling boxes in main tourist areas.
Almost two-thirds of your trash is recyclable or can be composted. People are uneducated about what can be recycled or thrown out.
In a small personal survey of 50 people, the majority of responses to why they don't recycle is that because they're too lazy. There is only one recycling center inside town, which requires people to drive to dump. What about so many people who live too far away or who do not own a vehicle? Offering more recycling centers or curbside recycling could help promote recycling at home.
Education and availability is the main issue for Pendleton's recycling. Recycling and environmental impacts should be taught in school so that the next generation can carry on this knowledge. Thank you to those who realized the need to recycle and have taken a stand. We need to be the change and the solution, not the problem.
Facts most people don't know:
-E-waste includes your computers, electronics and cell phones. 300 cell phones have enough gold in them to make a thick gold ring. Inspired by the newest, most popular trend, old phones are tossed which have dangerous chemicals that leak into groundwater.
-Shopping bags: Plastic creates 9.1 pounds of solid waste vs. 45.8 pounds for paper; plastic creates 17.9 pounds of atmospheric emissions versus 64.2 pounds for paper; plastic creates 1.8 pounds of waterborne waste vs. 31.2 pounds for paper. Use a recyclable bag. And remember to recycle your plastic and paper bags.
-The average American receives 41 pounds of junk mail a year, 44 percent of this ends in a landfill. Call 888-567-8688 (curb credit card requests) and write "return to sender" to discourage companies from sending junk: Recycled paper requires 64 percent less energy than making paper from virgin wood pulp, and saves 17 trees.
-More than one-third of all energy is used by people at home due to electricity: An incandescent bulb uses 5 percent of all electrical energy sent to the lighting device whereas compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) use 30-75 percent;
-Bulk packaging uses less plastic and cardboard and can be used in reusable containers as well as becoming less trash;
Avoid unnecessary plastics and Styrofoam: Fast food and electronics packaging, plastic utensils, paper plates, straws, Styrofoam utensils are composed of wasteful materials and clog up our landfills and dumps, and are not biodegradable;
-Instead of buying coffee cups, bring a mug. Most coffee houses will give you a discount.
n It takes 90 percent less energy to recycle aluminum cans than to make new ones;
-Average water use: 3-7 gallons per flush for toilet, 25-30 gallons for tub; 50-70 gallons for a 10-minute shower; one washing machine load uses 25-40 gallons; one dishwasher load uses 9-12 gallons;
-Plastics take 500 years to break down in a dump; aluminum cans take 500 years; organic materials take 6 months; and cotton, rags, paper take 6 months.
-500 million vehicles burn an average of 2 gallons of fuel a day: 1 gallon releases 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere;
-32 million to 54 million barrels were used to make 200 billion liters of bottle water in 2007 most of this goes to the dump. Recycle or use a reusable Nalgene or aluminum bottle.
Go to www.recycling-revolution.com or Google "recycling" for more recycling facts.
Circe Verba is a Pendleton resident.