Preserving the Environment

Thirst Quenchers: Step Away from the Trash Can

July 16, 2014
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Thirst Quenchers: Step Away from the Trash Can
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Half of all households can now recycle this very common item.

Milk cartons. Juice cartons. Wine cartons, if you prefer. After you quench your thirst with a beverage, there’s no reason that you can’t recycle that empty container.

In case you aren’t aware, most cartons are made of paper and can be recycled just like any other paper product. Still, not everyone is doing their part. As Earth911 reported, in 2009, at least half a million tons of carton waste ended up in landfills.

But now it’s easier than ever to recycle these containers. According to the Carton Council (yes, there is such a thing!), the growth of carton recycling has boomed in the last five years — from 18 percent to 50 percent since 2009. There are now 58,358,146 of households in the U.S. — half the homes in the country — that have access to curbside recycling programs or drop off facilities.

MORE: Recycle Your Phone, Save the Gorillas

And here’s a fun fact for your next dinner party: Carton recycling is probably growing faster than tweeting. If you look at this neat infographic, in the last five years, the increased access to carton recycling (177 percent) has dwarfed the growth of mobile web usage (103 percent) and the number of adults using social media (55 percent).

In a blog post, Jason Pelz, the VP of recycling projects for the Carton Council wrote that this special landmark is only the beginning: “In fact, 50 percent is just one milestone for us. We envision the day when cartons are recycled everywhere and no cartons end up in landfills. It is with this ambition that we are marching full speed ahead.”

To those of you who don’t think and simply toss your empty containers into the trash, you’ve got some work to do. We all owe it to the trees to make this a little extra effort.

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