Letter: Reuse, recycle and donate to make a difference

February 7, 2024 at 9:48 p.m.

Okay, it's February, and you might have abandoned the New Year's resolutions you set for yourself and tried to implement for a couple of weeks in early January. So, how about adopting some resolutions that will be good for the world at large, and more specifically for our children and grandchildren?

The United States, with 4% of the world's population, is estimated by the US Energy Information Administration to use around 16% of all energy consumed globally. For this situation to improve, we each must do our part: Use Less & Waste Less and, when possible, reuse or recycle scarce resources.

Recycled aluminum only requires 5% as much energy as smelting aluminum from bauxite ore. This is why it is critical to recycle aluminum cans and use Tupperware containers or baggies instead of aluminum foil to store leftovers. Speaking of leftovers, in America we waste around 40% of all food that we produce and distribute, so let's buy less, eat or donate what we can't eat, and reap some benefits from our food waste by disposing it into a compost stream. Removing wet organic matter from our garbage increases the efficiency of the incineration of that garbage (and the resulting heat is used to spin turbines which create clean electricity). If you don't compost your kitchen waste already, you can buy a composting kit at DPW or Rye Brook Village Hall for $20. Both of those locations have food compost drop-off bins: there are limited hours at the DPW drop-off, but compost can be dropped off at Rye Brook Village Hall anytime, night or day.

Our use of plastics leads to overflowing landfills, floating islands of plastic in our oceans, and uncountable nano-particles of undigestible plastic in our water supply and bodies. Try to use reusable containers and jugs instead of single-use plastic bottles and put your plastic waste into your recycling bins which DPW picks up so it can be converted into fresh plastic materials, synthetic threads and textiles, sandals, benches, and weather-resistant building materials (boards, shingles, etc.). But don't put plastic bags or wrappings into that co-mingled recycling bin. These sheet plastics "gum up the works" at the recycling plant. Plastic bags and wrappers should be collected and dropped off at a kiosk at your local grocery store.

Find ways to burn less fossil fuels: trade in your gas-guzzling vehicle for an EV or a hybrid vehicle. Walk or bike or use the public transit system when you can—most Bee-Line buses are powered by electricity, not dirty diesel. Combine your errands and find a ride-share option to commute more efficiently. Layer up and turn the thermostat down in your house. Resist the lure of fast fashion and if you clean out your closets and drawers, donate used clothing to The Sharing Shelf to help those less fortunate in the Village. Deposit your obsolete electronics and appliances in the container for this purpose down at DPW on Fox Island Road and drop off functional furniture and housewares at the Furniture Sharehouse facility at the Westchester County Airport.

We can each only make an exceedingly small dent in America's waste of food, energy, plastics and textiles, so we all have to pitch in together to make a difference. Remember, there is no Planet B to fall back on if we squander the resources available to us on this one.

Gregg Hamilton

13 Village Green

Port Chester

Gregg Hamilton is a member of the Port Chester Sustainability Committee.


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