Problem Solver - August 2009
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Greening Your Sites

Every day, most of us use some sort of plastic product. As the use of plastic has grown, though, it's also become an increasing part of the stream of waste going to our landfills. The good news is that more plastic is being recycled, and you can help save landfill space when you use recycled plastic site furnishings to outfit your school, park, trails, golf courses or other outdoor sites.

Q: How can we make our sites "greener"?

A: Who can justify cutting down trees to build park benches and picnic tables that will eventually rot, splinter and need to be replaced? Why not find a longer-lasting solution? You can find park benches, picnic tables, planters and receptacles made of recycled plastic. One manufacturer alone recycles more than 5 million pounds of plastic—the equivalent of 35 million milk jugs.

You can further reduce the environmental footprint of your site by placing receptacles to handle both garbage and recycling. It will be helpful if you also provide signage that indicates what can go in the recycling container. For example, do cans and bottles need to go in separate containers, or can they be thrown in together?

Other ways to make your site greener include the use of native landscaping materials and plants, to reduce your use of water. These plants are also meant to live in your environment, which means they'll last longer.

Q: How can we reduce the maintenance requirements at our sites?

A: When you use recycled plastic site furnishings, you'll not only go greener by reducing the amount of plastic going to the landfill, but you'll also be reducing the resources and chemicals needed to maintain your site's beauty in the long term.

Recycled plastic is manufactured to withstand hard use and abuse. While wooden picnic tables and benches need to be repainted or stained regularly to keep them in top shape, recycled plastic never requires it. And wood can still splinter and rot, which means you'll occasionally have to replace boards or entire furnishings. Recycled plastic doesn't rot or splinter.

Painted graffiti can also be difficult to remove from wooden benches. If this is a problem in your area, you can rest easy knowing that painted-on graffiti can easily be removed from recycled plastic furnishings with a commercial solvent, while carvings can be smoothed with simple household tools.

Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls Inc.: