The Three R’s: Recycle

By Colleen Beaty, Manager, Conservation Content and Partnerships|March 29, 2013

Over the past few weeks, I’ve introduced you to the “Three R’s” of sustainability – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – and discussed how applying the principles of “Reduce” and “Reuse” to your habitat and education projects can further your facility’s sustainability goals. In today’s post I will talk about the third R, “Recycle.”

Finished compost. Photo courtesy of City of Casper, WY.

Finished compost. Photo courtesy of City of Casper, WY.

Because recycling involves an energy-intensive process of transforming one material into another, often require specialized equipment, it is often difficult to recycle materials on-site. You can still support your facility’s sustainability goals with this principle, however, by using recycled materials in your habitat and education projects. Many of the raised bed garden kits and rain barrels that are available for purchase are made of recycled materials, such as a wood-like composite made of recycled plastic bottles. Trails can also be lined with gravel made from recycled concrete aggregate.

Some recycling can be done on-site, though. Composting is an easy way to transform organic materials such as grass clippings, fallen leaves, pulled weeds, and kitchen scraps into compost, a lightweight nutrient-rich material that can be used to enrich your landscaped areas or other planting projects. Composting does not use any energy other than volunteer time, and requires little in the way of equipment – just a compost bin, and possibly a pitchfork or spade for turning the compost. Composting is also a fabulous way to teach learners of all ages about decomposition and the importance of soil organic matter to plants.

Your local USDA Cooperative Extension office can be a great resource for starting you out with a composting system that fits your needs. They may also be able to provide ideas for or assistance with developing educational projects in relation to composting.

How have you incorporated the principle of recycling into your habitat or educational projects?

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