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Save water: No need to rinse recycling!

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Have you ever thought about all the water you use trying to clean that empty peanut butter jar?

The average faucet flows at two gallons per minute, so even if it only takes 30 seconds of rinsing, that is still one gallon of water! Peanut butter jars are sticky though, so let’s assume it takes at least one minute to rinse. If you’re using warm water, it will require about 960 BTUs to heat the water (one BTU is equal to a four inch wooden match consumed completely).1

Consider what this means in terms of carbon dioxide. Depending on the type of water heater, one minute of warm water translates to between 0.15 pounds (gas water heater) and 0.51 pounds (electric water heater) of emitted carbon dioxide.2 This would be equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions produced by driving a car about one half mile!3

All of this is to say that if you live in Salt Lake City, it is not necessary to rinse your recycling! As long as a container is basically empty and can be tipped without its contents pouring out, it can be recycled. Recyclables go through a cleaning process at the recycling plant, so save the water and energy at home. Rinse no more!

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_thermal_unit
  2. http://www.treehugger.com/kitchen-design/built-in-dishwashers-vs-hand-washing-which-is-greener.html
  3. http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/documents/420f14040.pdf
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