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“How Does Stuff Get Recycled?  Join Reading Rainbow to Find Out”

2014 April 23

By Jeffrey Levy

It’s important to reduce how much trash we create, and then reuse stuff as much as possible.  But some things you just can’t figure out how to reuse, so recycling is much better than throwing them away. Recycling conserves natural resources and saves energy, helping to protect our climate.

So when you see a bottle or can on the ground, or are finished with a piece of paper, recycle it!  Don’t toss it in the trash.

Now, have you ever wondered what happens after the recycling gets picked up? For Earth Day this year, Reading Rainbow created a great video that shows us the answer. Follow along as LeVar Burton explores how recycling turns old paper, glass and metal back into stuff we can use.  After you watch the video, learn more on our website about reducing, reusing, and recycling.  (Psst, kids! Try out these fun games and activities.)

About the author: Jeffrey Levy is EPA’s Director of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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One Response leave one →
  1. Martha permalink
    May 2, 2014

    This is a great educational video that we can use in conjunction with our Group’s field trips to the single-stream materials recycling facility. It shows what happens in the facility and after the baled materials leave it. And I’m personally a LeVar Burton fan.

    Unfortunately, in the last 30 seconds he picks up a plastic bottle of water, drinks it, and throws it on the pile of recyclables. This leaves the unfortunate impression that we should feel free to consume unnecessary, single-use materials like plastic water bottles, since they can be recycled. It completely dismisses the importance of source reduction.

    Recycling larger and larger quantities of single-use, throw-away materials is inefficient and wastes energy. We need to reduce the amount of these items in the waste stream and recycle what is left. Maybe the film could be clipped at the end when he holds up the 6-pack of sodas, to exclude the plastic bottle toss? Or better yet, a sequel with LeVar pointing to all of the unnecessary single-use items that have become pervasive in the past 30 years, and how to reduce them. (Thirty years ago, the idea of buying a bottle of something that could come free from the tap was considered crazy!)

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