There are certain things we use in everyday life that can be harmful to both our health and the health of our environment. Many of these items are used once and then thrown away. Others are difficult to recycle. An example of this is a plastic shopping bag. The manufacture and distribution of these bags uses fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas) that are in limited supply and better used for other, more critical things. Many of these bags wind up as litter along the roadsides and in our waterways, where they can be deadly to wildlife. We can cut down on these environmental impacts by bringing reusable bags when we shop. If you do use plastic shopping bags, please remember that most grocery stores and big box stores in this area have recycling bins so you can return them to the store rather than throw them away.
By reducing our use of non-critical items that use fossil fuels for their manufacture, we not only save a non-renewable resource (fossil fuels), but also decrease air and water pollution. Materials like many plastics and Styrofoam may not be recyclable and also never truly decompose, but only break into smaller pieces of the same material, so they remain in our environment indefinitely.
Another easy way to reduce our impact on the planet is by carrying a reusable mug when we go to a coffee shop, convenience store or fast food restaurant to purchase a beverage. In 2004, Starbuck's purchased 54.8 million pounds of paper cup stock, which would make about 1.3 trillion cups; it took about 465,000 trees to make these use-once-and-dispose cups! That is just for one company, for one year. Multiply that times all the fast food giants and the numbers get to be staggering; and the impact we could all make by always using reusable mugs is equally as impressive! So even small, easy and seemingly unimportant efforts can make a significant difference in our resource use and sustainable practices!
Many of our household items are reusable over long periods of time, such as dishes, furniture and appliances. But what do we do with these things when we want to replace them? If you don't want to reuse them yourself, go to www.2good2waste.org, a website sponsored by Beaufort County, which offers a "Recyclopedia" that lists all kinds of items and how you can reuse or recycle them in Beaufort County. And don't forget the multitude of charitable organizations that accept donations of usable items. That way you can help others out and save landfill space at the same time!
Another way you can help reuse is to buy items that are made of recycled materials and items that are recyclable. Most containers show the recycling status of the material from which they are made; look for the recycling "triangle" on the container to determine if it is accepted by our recycling programs. Many packages also specify the percentage of pre or post-consumer material used. Pre-consumer material is newly manufactured and has not been used previously by consumers; post-consumer material has been used at least once and is now being reused.
Recycling is available to all residents of Hilton Head Island in two ways: drop off at the Hilton Head Island Convenience Center, located at 26 Summit Drive and cart-based residential pick up by the waste haulers.
The Convenience Center (843-681-3731) is operated by Beaufort County, and is open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday Saturday, Sunday. The Convenience Center is closed Wednesday and Beaufort County Holidays
For information on items that can be recycled, visit Beaufort County's website at www.bcgov.net/departments/Engineering-and-Infrastructure/solid-waste-and-recycle/Recycling/index.php for general recycling information.
Pick up by waste haulers is available for all cart-based residential units. Learn more about what material is accepted and how to sign up for services.