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Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

June 1996

Need a little REcharge? Test Your RE-flex!

The quiz that challenges you to REnew your commitment to a cleaner environment.

Maureen Mecozzi

First, a brief REview

For more than a decade you've been at it, day in, day out. Crushing cans and bundling newspapers, collecting motor oil and composting leaves. This reduce-reuse-recycling stuff is second nature to you now. It fact, it may be hard for you to recall the time when refuse stubbornly refused to be controlled. When trash multiplied without restraint.

How about reflecting for a moment on all you've learned over the years about the creation and the handling of waste? How about testing your RE-flexes? You might be surprised at how knowledgeable you've become about reducing waste, and reusing and recycling everything from plastic soda bottles to children's clothing. Why, you might even remember things you forgot.

Take the quiz

Test Your RE-Flex is a 50-question, five-part quiz with sections on recycling history, terminology, habits, facts & figures, and methods of action. As you work through the quiz, don't dwell on any one question – remember, this is a test of your recycling reflexes, so you should answer quickly!

Each correct answer is worth one (1) point unless otherwise noted. Some questions may have more than one correct answer.

Ready, set, go!


1. Which Wisconsin communities have had long-running recycling programs?

a. Brown Deer, Fox Lake, Madison
b. New Berlin, New Rome, New Paris, New Diggings
c. Old Lebanon, Old Indian Point, Old Badger Mills

2. When was Wisconsin's Recycling Law (1989 Wisconsin Act 335) signed?

a. 1972
b. 1990
c. 1989

3. Where and when did curbside recycling first begin?

a. Bloomer, Wis., 1934
b. Baltimore, Md., 1874
c. Anchorage, Ak., 1969

4a. Who could be considered the "father of American composting" for reintroducing the country to the benefits of compost at the turn of the century?

a. Sir Uriah Heep
b. George Washington Carver
c. J.I. Rodale

4b. Who is the "mother of composting?"

a. Mother Teresa
b. "Moms" Mabley
c. Mother Nature

5. Napoleon's son had a rattle made of...

a. sapphire-encrusted silver
b. gold with ivory inlay
c. recyclable aluminum

6. What was the first compacting garbage truck called?

a. the "Lambeau"
b. the "Packer"
c. the "Lombardi"

7. True or False: If the Pilgrims had six-packs, we'd still have the plastic rings from them today.

a. True
b. False
c. If the Pilgrims had six packs, they never would have left England.


8. Seven recyclable plastics are referred to by name, abbreviation and number. Give yourself one (1) point for matching the number with the correct name and abbreviation:

No. 1....V – Vinyl
No. 2....PS – Polystyrene
No. 3....LDPE – Low Density Polyethylene
No. 4....PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
No. 5....HDPE – High Density Polyethylene
No. 6....Other
No. 7....PP – Polypropylene

9. What does the acronym MSW stand for?

a. more standard wrapping
b. mixed solid waste
c. municipal solid waste

10. OK, smarty, what is MSW?

a. everything but the kitchen sink
b. everything including the kitchen sink
c. recyclable materials plus wastes collected from homes, businesses and institutions

11. What is vermicomposting?

a. composting with vermin
b. composting with earthworms
c. composting without oxygen

12. Composting is...

a. a natural process that converts plant materials to humus.
b. a good way to deal with yard waste.
c. a & b

13. Name the three R's of waste management:

a. reduce, reuse, recycle
b. return, recycle, repair
c. recycle, retread, renew

14. What is leachate?

a. liquid left in the bottom of soup cans and milk bottles
b. liquid formed in landfills when water combines with decomposing garbage
c. spent grain from the distilling process

15. A drop-off center is...

a. a place where you drop off recyclables.
b. an area unsafe for swimming.
c. a basketball pass.

16. Which example illustrates the practice of precycling?

a. You can buy milk and bottles water in many different containers. You choose to purchase them in refillable or returnable jugs.
b. You need three bolts. You're in a hardware store where bolts are sold in plastic blister packages, three to a pack, and also loose in open bins. You choose three bolts from the open bin, pay for them, decline the offer of a bag and slip the bolts into your shirt pocket.
c. both a & b are good examples of precycling.

17. Humus is...

a. the long bone in the upper part of the arm.
b. taking excessive pride in one's garden.
c. decayed organic matter.


Score yourself accordingly: three (3) points for "Of course!"; two (2) points for "Sometimes"; one (1) point for "Nah."

Do you...

18. ...consider what happens to a product or package when you are finished with it?

19. an item, even if you could get a new one for nearly the same price?

20. ...ask yourself if you REALLY need something before you buy it?

21. ...write product manufacturers about your packaging concerns or packaging improvements?

22. ...look for longer-lasting alternatives to disposable products?

23. in bulk whenever possible to avoid excess packaging?

24. ...purchase products made from recycled materials?

25. ...use durable mugs or cups at the office instead of disposables, and pack your lunch in a reusable container?

26. labels and use nontoxic products to clean the house?

27. ...use a cloth bag when shopping, or reuse paper and plastic bags?

28. ...compost leaves instead of bagging or burning them?

By the numbers

29. How many recycled plastic milk jugs does it take to make one six-foot park bench?

a. 1,050
b. about 500
c. 825

30. Paper can be recycled...

a. as many times as necessary.
b. up to seven times, depending on the length of the fibers.
c. only three times.

31. An American family of four generates _______ of waste per week.

a. 15 pounds per person
b. 70 pounds
c. 112 pounds

32. How much of that waste could be reduced, reused or recycled?

a. 55%
b. 70%
c. nearly all of it

33. How many recycled soda bottles does it take to make one polyester suit?

a. five for the jacket, three for the pants
b. too many – I prefer natural fibers.
c. 26 PET bottles

34. A typical householder needs _______ to handle recycling chores.

a. two hours every Saturday morning
b. 73 minutes per month
c. two days per month

35. True or False: One out of every six U.S. trucks is a garbage truck.

a. True
b. False
c. Sorry, I can't decide. I'm flipping a three-sided coin.

36. If properly made, the center of a compost heap will reach temperatures of _______ within four to five days.

a. 60-80 degrees F
b. 140-160 degrees F
c. hot enough to roast marshmallows

37. Over a lifetime, an American will throw away ______ times his or her adult weight in garbage.

a. 20
b. I'm dieting, so it won't be that much
c. 600

38. In 1994, what percentage of Wisconsin households participated in some form of recycling?

a. 76%
b. 68%
c. 94%

39. How many Wisconsin households are served by curbside recycling programs?

a. about three-fourths
b. exactly half
c. more than you might suspect

Taking action

40. What is the best way to find out about your local recycling program?

a. call city hall, your town chairman, or your county government
b. call city hall, your town chairman, or your county government
c. call city hall, your town chairman, or your county government

41. How can you make car tires last longer?

a. slow down and stay off rough roads
b. keep them properly inflated and rotate them every 5,000 miles
c. a & b

42. Can this magazine be reused after you have read it?

a. Sure. It makes a great fly swatter.
b. Yes! I give my back issues to schools, hospitals and day care centers.
c. Not yet. I'm saving all my back issues so I can leave a complete set to my local public library. Please don't tell my spouse.

43. When your refrigerator has chilled its last quart of milk, you...

a. contact your local recycling coordinator to find out who can safely recycle the appliance.
b. stick a screwdriver into the compressor to release the CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) into the atmosphere.
c. leave it to rust on the back porch as a commentary on our postmodern throwaway society.

44. What do you do when the grass in your small front yard needs to be cut?

a. Call Rent-A-Sheep.
b. Hop on your double-overhead cam 8-cylinder turbo-charged twin engine power mower with leather bucket seats, give the lawn a crew-cut and bag up every single blasted clipping in sight.
c. Burn a few calories by using a push mower, then leave the clippings on the lawn to enrich the soil and keep yard waste out of the landfill.

45. Junk mail increasingly clogs your mailbox. What should you do?

a. Write Mail Preference Service, Direct Marketing, P.O. Box 9008, Farmingdale, NY 11735 and ask to have your name removed from as many direct mail listings as possible.
b. Tell your mail carrier to cut out the monkey business.
c. Refuse to answer to "Occupant."

46. When your 12-year-old son has outgrown last year's parka, you:

a. hand it down to your disgruntled but cold 11-year-old son.
b. use the cloth to make a quilt.
c. wash it, then donate it to the Salvation Army or other charitable organization.

47. During the winter holidays, you cut back on waste by...

a. reusing gift boxes, and by wrapping gifts in the Sunday comics or in wrapping paper you've saved from other holidays.
b. using one cinnamon stick in the mulled wine instead of three.
c. eating the popcorn-and-cranberry tree garland.

48. You're cleaning out the garage and find a stack of suspicious-looking old cans marked with the skull-and-crossbones. What should you do?

a. Flush the contents down the toilet.
b. Pour the contents down a storm sewer.
c. Put the cans in a cool, dry place, then contact your local government and find out when the next "Clean Sweep" hazardous waste collection day is going to be held so the contents can be disposed of properly.

Double bonus!

Give yourself 10 additional points if you answer both questions correctly; 5 points if you can answer only one of the two.

In the film Casablanca, several of the characters want to "recycle" the letters of transit.

49. Where did Rick (Humphrey Bogart) hide the letters?

50. Which character or characters eventually "reused" the letters to get out of Morocco?

The answers

1. A
2. B (the law gave communities until 1991, 1993 and 1995 to ban landfill disposal of specified materials.)
3. B
4a. B
4b. C (You don't really expect a point for this one, do you?)
5. C
6. B
7. A (The plastics industry has recently developed a ring that will degrade in sunlight, but if you know that much, you should be writing this quiz, not taking it.)
8. No. 1 (PET); No. 2 (HDPE); No. 3 (V); No. 4 (LPDE); No. 5 (PP); No. 6 (PS); No. 7 (Other)
9. C
10. C
11. B
12. C
13. A
14. B
15. A
16. C (Precycling is considering how waste will be handled before making a purchase.)
17. C
18-28. Fill in the points from your answers.
29. A
30. B
31. C (The average is 4.5 pounds per person per day.) 32. B
33. C
34. B
35. A
36. B
37. C
38. C
39. A
40. A, B or C
41. C
42. A, B or C
43. A (Never release CFCs from a compressor! Trained people can recover CFCs and prevent their escape into the atmosphere.)
44. C
45. A
46. A, B or C
47. A
48. C
49. In Sam's piano
50. Victor and Ilsa Lazlo

The moment of truth

So, how did you do? Add up your points to see how quick your RE-flexes are.


86-76 Renaissance Man, Woman or Child! If everyone had RE-flexes like yours, what a wonderful world it would be.

75-60 Good grip on reality. Your RE-flexes are sharp.

59-40 Receptive to new ideas, but reluctant to reverse old habits. C'mon, you know you can do better.

39-21 Please re-fresh your memory...soon. Start by re-read back issues of Wisconsin Natural Resources for recycling information.

20-0 In dire need of resuscitation! Contact your local recycling program for help immediately!

Maureen Mecozzi is associate editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources.