By: Sarah Steighner
The motto “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” was attempted to stay drilled into our heads since elementary school and every Earth Day since. Today, more recycling bins are presented than ever before. While in some communities, there is not a direct pick up for recycling available, there are also places where you can take your recycling. Many businesses and public places, including the Penn State New Kensington campus, provide numerous recycling bins beside each trash can. However, some people still continue to throw away things that can be recycled, or not put in the small effort that it would take to recycle. In this case, maybe it is time to reevaluate the extreme importance of recycling and just how far a little effort will impact the Earth for the better.
To begin, there are many items that people use on a daily or weekly basis that can be recycled. For example, newspapers, magazines, plastic bottles, steel and aluminum cans, hdpe plastic bottles, and glass containers. These are all things that are recyclable. In fact, according to the National Recycling Coalition, it takes 95 percent less energy to turn recycled cans into new cans versus making brand new ones. Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency has stated that one third of all the municipal waste stream in the U.S. comes from paper.
Reducing the energy it takes to produce an item, plus reducing the trash sent to landfills both help the environment. Sometimes trash that goes to a landfill is burned, thus resulting in pollution, and chemicals and particles being emitted into the environment. The EPA outlined the effects waste prevention and recycling have on the environment which includes the reduction of emissions from energy consumption, an increase of storage of carbon in forests, and a reduction in emissions from incinerators and landfills.
Some trash that does not get recycled ends up getting dumped in the ocean. In fact, about 10 percent of plastic gets thrown into the ocean. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, one of five major garbage patches in the world, is bigger than twice the size of Texas. In some spots it is even as deep as 90 feet. This is harmful to the environment in more ways than imaginable.
About 80% of the garbage floating around is plastic. Considering plastic can never be fully bio gradable, particles from the plastic break down, while polluting the ocean and endangering sea life. These pollution particles can be ingested by the animals swimming around and transferred to animals that eat the originally toxic animals. Thus begins the chain reaction of endangering animal species due to people’s lack of being resourceful and recycling.
So, rethink your decision to throw something in the trash versus recycling next time. After all, just because we might not directly see piles of garbage in our homes or think we don’t feel the effects of pollution doesn’t mean that animals and the earth can ignore the consequences of our apathy and ignorance.