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Recycling is one of the most helpful things we can do as a community in order to help mitigate the pollution in our environment. We may think of recycling merely as a way to reduce the trash in the environment—however, it can do so much more than that and it affects our life in an important but almost imperceptible way.
Recycling not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions but it creates thousands of jobs around the world and reduces the amount of plastic we consume day to day. Specifically, recycling as an industry has created over 68,100 jobs in the county and produced 37.8 billion dollars in wages per year.
It is especially important to recycle plastic, as plastics can be extremely harmful for the environment if they are not recycled properly. Three hundred million tons of plastic waste is generated annually, which is around 85% of the plastic produced annually. Unfortunately, a significant amount of plastic is still thrown into the trash instead of being recycled. This takes a negative toll because it either gets littered or ends up in a landfill. Landfills are huge centers that are essentially huge piles of trash. Toxic substances from plastics get into the ground around landfills, while some plastics can be blown by the wind out of landfills. These plastics can eventually end up in the ocean and other environmental habitats. Toxic chemicals like polystyrene and BPA, which are contained in plastic, can be released into the water when thrown into the ocean. Although the plastic itself degrades quickly, they spread out as micro-plastic particles that enter our food chain. At this point, everything we consume contains trace microplastic.
An example of our plastic pollution problem is an island between California and Hawaii that is completely made up of plastic. It is made up of 1.8 billion pieces of plastic and it kills thousands of marine animals each year. It is the result of polluting plastic.
Clearly, there are extreme consequences to the environment that arise from not recycling plastic.
You might be wondering how you can help here. Easy things to recycle are plastic containers, food & beverage cans, paper, flattened cardboard, and glass bottles. Make sure none of these items have food or drink residue on them as it completely ruins the ability to be recycled and has to be put into a landfill if given to a recycling company, so wash anything that fits this description before you put it in your recycling bin. Some common items that people THINK are recyclable, but are not, are plastic bags and styrofoam containers.
At SAS, our current state of recycling could definitely improve. We surveyed the school and asked, “On a scale from one to ten, how would you rate the school’s efforts to promote recycling?” The average answer was three. Some students expressed their thoughts on the practice of recycling: “Disappointingly, we don't have any recycling bins in the Dining Hall. I also often find that in common room recycling bins people dispose of things like candy wrappers even when there is a sign advising against it.” Another mentioned that their roommate didn’t even know what was recyclable or not! To learn more about what we can do to recycle, we simply suggest doing some research and expanding your knowledge. Recycling is something that we can all work on.
Sources for further reading:
- All School News
- Environmental News
- Front Lawn News