Jul 112018
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Shop time is precious. However, so is Mother Earth. We have only one, and we have only one lifetime to treat her right, both for our own good and those who will occupy her in the future.

Think “children” and “grandchildren.” Therefore, it’s worth the time to make a few extra steps across the shop each day to recycle.

These recycling bins are but a short walk across the garage from where most of my work is done. We also keep a bin in the laundry room, upstairs, and a big bin at work. Those who inherit the earth from us will appreciate that they don’t have to live in landfills.

Aluminum is the most valued recyclable, with more than two-thirds of all of the aluminum ever made still in use. If you’re sipping on a Coca Cola right now, rinse that can and drop it into the bin when you’re finished. Other scraps of aluminum you might produce in your work can also be recycled curbside, so keep your mind open to cutoffs and other sources.

Paper is a big recyclable item, and woodworking shops produce a good bit of it. Think packaging, plans, notebooks and mail. When I have scrap paper I may take a momentary break to walk across the room to recycle, or I may conserve my energy by making a pile until it gets in my way.

Steel is one of the most-recycled items in America, but more of it is recycled industrially than personally. That’s too bad, because we use and discard a lot of it. However, as easy as it is to recycle a steel English pea can curbside, other steel items might have to be stockpiled and delivered to a metal recycling center. I am fortunate to have one nearby, and I can store steel and large-format aluminum in my garage at work until I have a load to deliver.

If you prefer to be paid for your aluminum cans, you can save them and sell them at the metal recycling center, too. However, keep in mind that such high-profit items help your local government keep curbside recycling available to everyone.

I’ve never understood the attraction of bottled water, especially little 4- and 8-ounce bottles that are so inefficient. I prefer tap water, which is nearly free. However, America loves them, as evidenced by the “bottle mountains” I see in recycling bins every Friday. Sadly, when I pick up litter on my early-morning walk, I often see them in garbage cans I drop that trash into along the way. Plastic recycling is quite efficient, and the bigger your municipality, the more likely you are to be able to recycle even unusually-symboled plastic beyond common polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

Wood scraps recycle, too. We have friends who use woodburning stoves and heaters, so I keep a 5-gallon bucket handy to drop in all sizes of cutoffs. When the bucket is full …

After one of many waste-company changes in our city, we ended up with a never-used rolling garbage cart. The company didn’t want it back, so I use it to store wood scraps until someone needs them for their woodburning stove.

The “3Rs” are reduce, reuse and recycle. They are listed in order of value. First, buy less and use less. Second, reuse what doesn’t have to be thrown away. Third, recycle where you can. Recycling can also include using cutoffs and “waste” in another project. Think of this as a ceiling recycle bin.

May I encourage you to find a corner of your shop where you can reduce landfill waste by saving your recyclables for the weekly pickup?

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