Like many of you, I try to think green. That’s why I’m a big fan of recycling everything I possibly can.
Recycling conserves our natural resources and reduces the amount of garbage and junk that is regularly lost in landfills. According to the Bureau of International Recycling, about 40% of world’s copper requirements are met by recycling. Even something as simple as recycling a single plastic bottle can save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours. Recycling an aluminum can saves 95% of the energy needed to produce that can. Recycling helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as water and air pollution. One estimate I saw is that a recycling rate of 30% would be the equivalent of removing 30 million cars from the road.
Recycling also makes for a strong economy. That’s because the strength of an economy is based on operating efficiently. It is not efficient to waste natural resources through excessive logging, mining and energy generation. On the other hand, collecting and recycling scrap materials is a $106 billion industry.
It’s hard to find any downsides to recycling. That’s why many governments around the world have policies in place to encourage recycling. Here in California and many other states, deposits on bottles, cans and other suitable scrap materials can provide extra income for many people, and for some it is their main source of income.
At Dutton Plumbing, we do our part by recycling many of the old and broken materials we replace on jobs, such as copper and plastic pipe, old water heaters, etc. But when it comes to plumbing, nothing holds as much promise for a greener world than recycling the nastiest stuff imaginable.
A couple of years ago I wrote about efforts here in California and elsewhere to convert wastewater from toilets into tap water. Check it out.
Recently I came across an article about researchers in Europe who have figured out a way to convert used toilet paper flushed away into a source of electricity.
I find it fascinating that some of our ickiest waste can be put to such good use. Plumbing is one of those fields that conjures up the old saying, “It’s a dirty job but somebody has to do it.” Another way of putting it is that it’s a necessary job that makes enormous contributions to the health and safety of the public.