Have you ever wanted to start an interesting conversation with complete strangers, a conversation that pulled ideas in from every edge of the spectrum? If so, here is a great topic: recycling. People believe so many different things about recycling that it can be hard to find a consensus. Perhaps one thing we should all agree on is the goal of improving recycling efforts worldwide.
As soon as someone talks about improving recycling, minds start wandering to waning landfill space and polluted waterways. But there’s a very real possibility we aren’t running out of landfill space. As for water pollution, that is an easy enough problem to solve if we are willing to put forth the effort.
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For me, the top reason for improving worldwide recycling efforts is as simple as the fact that unnecessary waste is just stupid. Throwing things away unnecessarily makes about as much sense as filling our homes with excess stuff we will never use. Again, it is just plain stupid.
Every once in a while, my wife and I will order restaurant food and have it delivered to the door. The food always comes in those plastic carryout containers. Some of the containers are pretty sturdy. In fact, they are sturdy enough to be used multiple times. Throwing them away is stupid. Instead, we hold on to them and use them as storage containers.
Not only would it be stupid for my wife and me to throw away those containers, but it would also be wasteful. It would be wasteful in the sense that time, energy, and resources went into manufacturing the containers. As the end users, we actually paid for the manufacturing. Immediately throwing them out is like throwing money in the trash.
Seraphim Plastics is a Tennessee company that buys industrial scrap plastic and recycles it by turning it into regrind. All the plastic they could buy, but not for whatever reason, represents money down the drain. The companies throwing that plastic away could turn it into cash by selling it to a recycler. Likewise, the recycler is losing access to a valuable resource its business could use.
Combine the first two reasons and you get the third reason for improving our worldwide recycling efforts: recycling makes sense. Think about it. Prior to the industrial age, people recycled whatever they could. When things broke, they fixed them. When they could no longer use an item for its intended purpose, they found another way to use it.
All of this was before scientists began studying weather patterns and climate. It was all before there were municipal landfills and local advocacy groups scared to death that this landfill space would be exhausted. So why did they do it? Because it makes sense.
Finally, it is obvious that not everyone believes climate change is real. It is true that a growing body of evidence suggests the world isn’t running out of landfill space. But even so, the world is still worth taking care of. Recycling is one of the easiest things we can do to prevent unnecessary environmental harm.
Our global recycling efforts at the current time are just okay. Needless to say there is plenty of room for improvement. Improving what, how, and when we recycle can only lead to good things. If we can make it work without breaking the bank, why wouldn’t we?