Nutrition-wise blog

Go green for the planet

By Jennifer K. Nelson, R.D., L.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. April 11, 2012

Earth Day is just around the corner, and I've been thinking about recycling.

Although I try to stick to the mantra of "reduce, reuse and recycle," I admit that I can do more on the recycle part. We have a huge recycling bin, but we seldom fill and put it out. I still toss some cans and bottles into the regular trash. So I've decided to change.

In looking into recycling, I found out that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a handy app that estimates the energy benefits of recycling household items rather than putting them in the landfill.

The app translates the energy saved by recycling common food or household containers into electricity with estimates of how long that much electricity can power a 60 watt equivalent compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulb, a laptop or other items.

Here are some examples:

 Energy saved would power a ...
Item to be recycled 60 watt CFL bulb for: laptop computer for:
1 aluminum can 20 hours 5.2 hours
1 plastic bottle 9.8 hours 2.5 hours
1 glass bottle 8 hours 2.1 hours
1 plastic grocery bag 1.3 hours 20 minutes
1 magazine 1.1 hour 20 minutes

This is pretty impressive. It makes me want to take a few extra steps to the recycle bin.

Here are other common kitchen items and whether they can be recycled.


Plastic Glass Metal Paper
Can be recycled in most cases Bottles and jugs marked 1 or 2 Food jars and beverage bottles Food and beverage cans Cardboard boxes and boxes that contained food
Generally can't be recycled (but worth checking) Margarine, cottage cheese and yogurt containers, microwave containers, deli trays and wrap Drinking glasses, mugs, dishes, cookware and pottery Aerosol cans Pizza boxes, egg cartons, frozen food boxes and containers soiled with food

The ability to recycle items may depend on your local recycling provider — so check to confirm the appropriateness of items you want to recycle.

The first step towards correcting a bad habit is to admit to it. I've blogged about needing to be better about recycling. Now it's your turn. What are you going to do?

- Jennifer

6 Comments Posted

April 11, 2012