OSI supports Air Force's Earth Day commitment 'Conserve Today - Secure Tomorrow'

  • Published
  • By Air Force Office of Special Investigations Public Affairs Office
Established by Senator Gaylord Nelson, and first observed in 1970, this April 22, is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day provides an opportunity to participate with millions of others to consider and reflect on environmental quality and the impact each and every Airman plays in preserving our natural resources for future generations. 

On this 45th Earth Day anniversary, the Air Force is focusing on raising awareness and engaging in activities to enhance sustainability and support the Air Force's Earth Day theme of "Conserve Today - Secure Tomorrow."

The Air Force values and respects the natural resources placed in our trust. Our continued environmental stewardship is reflected in the current mission-wide programs to conserve, reduce waste and prevent pollution.

Accordingly, the Air Force is aggressively pursuing recycling as one step toward a cleaner, more sustainable Total Force, every day. We fundamentally believe that doing right by the environment is the way to do business.

Our efforts are getting noticed. Many military bases offer recycling centers that collect and process cardboard, paper, aluminum cans, plastic, batteries, used oil, toner cartridges, scrap metal and wire.

Earth Day provides an opportunity for every individual Airman to show their commitment to the environment through recycling.

Recycling is an important component of protecting the environment, aids our local communities and helps conserve resources and energy, preserves valuable landfill space and supports a healthy environment.

For example, the aluminum beverage can returns to the grocer's shelf as a new, filled can in as little as 90 days after collection, re-melting, rolling, manufacturing and distribution. If it sits in a landfill, a can could take between 8-200 years to break down. One can!  Recycling just one aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours or a television for 2 hours. Recycling 125 aluminum cans saves enough energy to power one home for a day!

Electronic waste from equipment of all sizes includes dangerous chemicals like lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury and brominated flame retardants. When we dispose of gadgets and devices improperly, these hazardous materials have a high risk of polluting the air, contaminating soil and leaching into water sources.

How often do you buy a new cell phone, laptop or TV?  The average cell phone user gets a new cell phone every 18 months and in the U.S., we toss more than 100 million cell phones in the trash every year.

The Environmental Protection Agency reports that more than 112,000 computers are discarded every single day in the U.S. alone. That's 41.1 million desktop and laptop computers per year! 

While our hunger for electronics and technology keeps growing, what happens to our old stuff? Only 13 percent of electronic waste is disposed and recycled properly. With e-waste becoming such a large problem, government offices and schools are assigning days when citizens can bring unwanted electronics to a designated drop-off location.

Some retailers have effective recycling program in their stores. You can drop off all kinds of e-waste for recycling at stores like Best Buy, including cell phones, televisions, power cords, GPS devices, speakers, DVD players, memory cards, desktops, laptops and notebooks.

Reusing is always better than recycling. If your electronics still have life left, you can reduce e-waste pollution and share technology with people who wouldn't otherwise have access to it.

Organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers and Verizon's HopeLine program will make sure your old cell phone goes to a worthy cause. Other organizations, like the Salvation Army and Goodwill, can sell your used electronics and use the profits to educate and empower others who need help. Be a part of the solution. Help properly recycle as much e-waste as possible.

"Green practices" are a Total-Force effort that requires participation by every Airman. Rethink the way you and your family conserve and protect our limited resources at home, at work and in the community.

Make a habit of being green - for your family, the Earth and the Air Force. Small steps can and do make a difference. You help us achieve our goals when you:

· Prepare cardboard for recycling by removing all other materials in the box such as plastic wrap, polystyrene peanuts and other packing materials.
· Break down cardboard boxes to save storage space.
· Try to keep cardboard dry and free from food waste. Cardboard can get wet and still be recycled, but is more difficult to carry due to the added weight of the water.
· Prepare glass containers for recycling by rinsing out with water.
· Labels on glass containers don't have to be removed because they are removed during the crushing process or burned off during the melting process.
· Avoid breaking the glass and mixing broken colors together as this may make the glass unacceptable for recycling.
· Recyclable paper includes: magazines and catalogs, telephone books, direct mail, brochures, pamphlets and booklets in addition to cereal, cake, chip and cracker boxes.
· Be sure to remove the liner and all food from the box, flatten the box and place the flattened box in a paper sack with your junk mail, mixed paper, magazines and catalogs.
· Non-recyclable paper includes tissue, waxed and carbon paper.
· Prepare plastic containers for recycling by ensuring first that they are marked with identification codes on the bottom of the plastic container encircled by three chasing arrows.
· Remove plastic tops from the plastic containers being recycled and rinse containers with water.
· Crushing containers will help save space while storing them.
· Prepare steel cans for recycling by rinsing them with water to remove any food residue.
· To save space, remove both ends of the steel can and crush flat.
· Labels on the steel cans do not have to be removed since they are burned off during the melting process.

These are just a few of the things you can do at work and at home to be good stewards of our environment.

While progress has been made, there's still much more to do. You can demonstrate your commitment to the environment by logging on to the Air Force's "Blue Acts of Green" Facebook page and pledge to take a small step to improve the environment on Earth Day and every day.

Collectively, we can lead the way in conserving today to ensure a secure future for the Air Force and our nation for generations to come.

Earth Day 2015 Recycling Facts

· Recycling just 48 cans is the energy equivalent of conserving one gallon of gas
· Since 1990, the paper recovered through U.S. recycling efforts would fill 200 football stadiums to a height of 100 feet
· The most recycled consumer product in America is the automobile, with 26 cars being recycled every minute
· Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees and 462 gallons of oil
· One pound of newspaper can be recycled into 6 cereal boxes or egg cartons
· In the U.S., we toss more than 100 million cell phones in the trash every year
· EPA reports that over 112,000 computers are discarded every single day, in the U.S. alone. That's 41.1 million desktops and laptop computers per year!  
· Only 30% of electronic waste is disposed of and recycled properly
· Recycling just one aluminum beverage can saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours or a TV for 2 hours 
· Recycling 125 aluminum cans saves enough energy to power one home for a day
· Recycling one ton of cardboard:
· Saves 390 kWh of energy
· Saves 1.1 barrels (46 gallons) of oil
· Saves 6.6 million BTUs of energy.
· If everyone in the U.S. was able to reduce their 10.8 pieces of junk mail received each week, we could save nearly 100 million trees each year.
· If every household in the U.S. replaced one roll of non-recycled paper towels with a roll of 100% recycled paper towels, we would save 864,000 trees and 3.4 million cubic feet of landfill space.
· If 10,000 people switched from zero to 100% post-consumer recycled office paper for a year, the collective annual impact is equivalent to taking 230 cars off the road for a year
· A typical disposable lunch, with items like single-serve yogurt, Ziploc bags and juice boxes, creates 4 to 8 oz. of garbage every day. In a year, this could generate up to 67 pounds of waste!
· Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, Americans throw away one million extra tons of garbage every week
· The average U.S. citizen uses 200 pounds of plastic per year and only 3% is recycled. Glass makes up 6% of all the items in a landfill and it takes over 1 million years to decompose
·  An average of 220 tons of computers and other e-waste is dumped annually

For more information on the Air Force's Earth Day efforts, visit http://www.afcec.af.mil/news/earthday