Tuesday July 2, 2007 | Can you think of a better picture than this: blue skies; warm sun; and the feel of the sand and ocean water on your feet. But wait, your picture becomes clouded by trash swirling around you, aluminum cans and paper bags below your feet. That once picture-perfect vision of America’s finest beaches is lost in mounds and piles of trash.

Last year, more than 10,000 pounds of trash was left behind on San Diego beaches and bays. With over 500,000 people expected to enjoy the beaches and bay this Fourth of July, remember to take an extra minute and place that soda can, water bottle or sun screen lotion in the Allied Waste Services recycling bins that you will see along stretches of the coast this holiday.

Recycling saves valuable landfill capacity for use by future generations. Recycling of products that you would use for picnics on the beach such as aluminum, plastic and paper also saves energy and creates job opportunities and disposable income for the economy. And recycling that trash from your Fourth of July celebration on the beach helps prevent emissions of greenhouse gases and water pollutants while stimulating the development of greener technologies.

Recycled aluminum products use 95 percent less energy than the same products generated from virgin material. Recycling aluminum cans saves enough energy to refrigerate those same drink cans for two days and recycling glass uses 35 percent less energy than is required to make glass from raw materials.

In the time it takes you to finish this article, San Diegans will buy, consume and throw away nearly 30 tons of raw materials. Alone, you generate 454 pounds of trash every year. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but it adds up to a collective 248 million tons per year.

By keeping your trash off the beaches and bays, you have started to make a difference in our community. However, there is more you can do. When you purchase your “Happy Birthday America” party favors, buy recycled products and packaging. This will create an economic incentive for recyclable materials to be collected, manufactured and marketed as new product.

At Allied Waste Services, we recognize that our natural resources are not limitless and our beaches are not to be used as a space for landfills. We have to reduce, reuse and recycle by: first, sustaining our commitment to supply those industries that have invested in processing and using recovered materials; second, expand the markets for recycling of additional materials; third, improve our outreach and education regarding the economic and environmental benefits of recycling; and fourth, continue to improve recycling policies, processes and technologies for recovering both renewable and, especially, nonrenewable resources.

Today, most San Diegans participate in recycling collection programs. In fact, more people recycle household waste than vote in elections. San Diegans have done a remarkable job throughout its history meeting challenges. However, none is more important than conserving our beaches and bays for our children and grand children.

So, please remember, when you’re enjoying that best-selling novel, applying lotion to keep from burning or finishing your favorite soda or ice-cold bottled water, take an extra minute to wish America a happy 231st birthday and drop that trash in a recycling container.

You will be glad you did as, on July 5, that vision you had of blue skies, warm sun on your back, sand at your feet and the calm of the ocean water will be as crystal clear as the sparkle of the sunset and a beach that is litter-free.

Perkins is the Director of Municipal Sales and Marketing at Allied Waste Services. You can e-mail her at johnnie.perkins@awin.com. Or send a letter to the editor.

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