WATERTOWN — It is spring at last, the weather is warm, and you are just getting back from the first hike of the season. You stop to buy an Orange Crush in a gas station and sip it while you drive with the windows down.
Several weeks later you decide to finally clean out your car, and the Orange Crush bottle goes into the recycling bin with last week’s Times, the pasta sauce jar and wine bottle from last night’s dinner party, and a couple of empty soup cans. The bin goes out to the curb, and you get on with life.
Over the last 60 years, the average amount of waste generated by Americans per day has increased from 2.68 pounds in 1960 to 4.48 pounds in 2015, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Over the same period, however, the percentage of that waste being recycled or composted has increased from 6.4 percent to 34.7 percent.
In short — Americans are generating more waste, and more of that waste is being recycled.
Recycling is more environmentally friendly than throwing all of that waste away, but it’s not always the best option. Plus, recycling brings its own challenges. In the weeks leading up to Earth Day the Watertown Daily Times and WPBS teamed up to report on recycling in the north country, and its challenges.