Example 1 – The Importance of Recycling
There are many advantages to recycling. Many people see recycling as a huge hassle or a big-time consumer; when the actuality of it is, it’s extremely simple and beneficial. Recycling is a process that turns materials that most would throw away, to be reused and turned into valuable resources once again. Not only can we cut back on waste to help reduce global warming, but we can also help reserve some of our natural resources by doing so. By doing this, we won’t have to destruct more habitats and clear less of our forests which are home to an abundance of wildlife. When we recycle, it also saves our environment from the emissions it produces when making new bottles. All in all, recycling reduces.
Our natural resources become more and more scarce every day and recycling, helps reduce the need for landfills or any other facility that is disposal. With recycling our trash, less of it ends up in the landfills. To me, landfills are gateways to the ocean. Every piece of litter or garbage that is found on the street or landfills ultimately will end up in the ocean. Once it hits the ocean, we are in real trouble. More damage will be done to a whole other world underwater. This problem walks hand in hand with marine wildlife being in danger by getting tangled and caught in our garbage that is ending up in the ocean. With recycling, we could worry less about making room for more garbages and dumps, and focus more on putting our trash back through a cycle, to where it can be reused.
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If we were to recycle more paper, deforestation would be cut way back because fewer trees would be being cut down. Animals and other living things would not be losing their natural habitats, and our world would simply be left more so in its natural state. Most importantly, our plants are our own source of oxygen! By cutting this out, we are cutting our own lives short by eliminating sources of oxygen. With every ton of paper that is recycled, 17 more trees could be spared from this. If everyone were to recycle all of their paper or as much as they could, thousands of trees could be saved each year by doing this simple gesture.
Another great way to recycle in the kitchen or the garden is by composting. Not only is this a great way to recycle, but it also saves you money by avoiding having to pay for fertilizers. By composting, it can reduce the need for not only fertilizers but also pesticides and water. Not only does composting help recycle, but it also helps enrich poor soils and increase nutrient content. Basically, composting is nature’s own special way of recycling organic materials that are decomposed and turning it all into rich soil. It’s simply an ongoing cycle of giving nutrients and then returning the nutrients back into the soil. As stated before, this will help cut back on the need to purchase any type of fertilizers.
There is an abundance of resources in our world that we all think we need. But how many of those resources could be recycled and then reused? For example, clothing, shoes, etc, could all be made by using recycled clothing. TOMS shoe is a great example of a company that takes materials from other recycled shoes, to make new ones. This way, there is no wasting whatsoever. Everything can be spared. By digging deeper, if we could think about what products we use the most, and then think about the sources we use to make those products, and where to cut back on those sources, a lot could be saved.
Another great way to cut back on using up all of our natural resources is by recycling our grocery bags. How? By making a one-time purchase of your own grocery bag or tote to use when shopping, instead of using up multiple papers or plastic bags on each visit. Just one plastic shopping bag could take anywhere from 15-100 years just to decompose itself! Rarely, are plastic shopping bags ever recycled. If everyone were to have their own reusable shopping bags or totes, we could make a huge difference in the demand for the production of paper and plastic bags. Because plastic bags are so lightweight, they are one of the leading things that are found as washed-up debris.
They can fly out of any landfill and most likely end up in trees or in great bodies of water. These bags already cover a vast majority of our coasts and end up harming animals by ending up being ingested by sea animals who then die of starvation. Some people think that by using brown paper bags, they are helping save the environment. These people could not be more wrong. The actuality of it is, 14 million trees a year are cut down just to be enough to supply the high demand for shopping bags. There are many disadvantages of grocery bags but thankfully there is but one simple solution: reusable grocery bags.
Other than using reusable bags, recycling paper, and composting, there are many different creative ways to recycle our everyday items. For example, old empty plastic cd cases could be glued together to make containers or drawers to hold items. Newspapers could be used as wrapping paper or even further, insulation for a house! Any type of plastic box or carton could be turned into a book cover. The used paper could be meshed all together to form more clean pages of another new book. There are many endless ways to recycle and be creative with it.
Many people think that recycling is difficult and extremely time-consuming. Now, there are a bunch of easily accessible opportunities and ways to recycle. The first step would be to get a recycle bin and make it easy to access. By placing a recycle bin next to your garbage at home, would help you and your family to get in a habit of sorting your trash before you actually throw it away. For example, ensuring that all newspapers that are already read, used water bottles, paper cups, plastic, etc, can all be tossed into the recycle bin. Then, at the end of the week, it can be collected just as the trash is. Another way to do your part in recycling is by checking labels on items before purchasing to ensure that it is or has been recycled. For example, batteries that can be recharged are a great way to cut back on the demand and allow you to reuse as much as possible.
In conclusion, there are many ways that recycling can be fit into anyone’s lifestyle. It is an extremely uncomplicated thing to do to produce big results for our environment. If everyone did their part by recycling as much as they could, a little bit really could go a long way. If new and creative ideas are thought up on how to recycle, sharing with others or holding meetings is a great way to spread the word. We have to always keep in mind that these are our lives we are talking about here! By recycling, we are not only cutting back on all of our waste and reusing, but we are also improving and extending our own lives.
Example 2 – Recycling in Montgomery
Imagine a world where there is absolutely no pollution. A world filled with luscious greenery and pure air. Does it sound like a dream? Actually, with the joint effort of people around the globe, this dream is on its way to becoming reality! Globally, people are becoming more aware of recycling than ever before, but it is still not the highest priority for the majority of us. In certain areas in the city of Montgomery, the curbside recycling pick-up programs have been discontinued due to the lack of funding from the government. This has unfortunately resulted in a curtailed recycling rate. The city is planning to build an advanced mixed materials recovery facility plant with state-of-the-art technology (Recycling Today, 2013). This can be expected to be a very costly and time-consuming project.
However, in this case, the pros far outweigh the cons, as it will allow almost all of the waste to be recycled much more efficiently and effectively. Along with the city’s continued efforts in developing this project, residents can also contribute to recycling by incorporating the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) into their daily lives, which is important to both the people and the natural environment.
Montgomery is teetering on the brink of re-defining recycling through leading-edge technology and long-term green investments. Recently, the city officials came together, along with the Montgomery Area of Chamber of Commerce and Infinitus Energy, and announced their plans to build an advanced mixed materials recovery facility, which will be up and running by the Summer of 2014 (Infinitus Energy, 2013). In addition, Infinitus Energy has plans to develop the new Infinitus Renewable Energy Park in Montgomery (iREP Montgomery).
In addition to creating 110 new jobs, this $35 million facility, spanning an area of 74 acres, is going to recycle 85% of the waste collected from the city and the surrounding suburbs (Infinitus Energy, 2013). The waste will be divided using the latest screening and separation technologies. The system will sort and recover cardboard, mixed papers, plastics, metals, and aluminum cans. If necessary, additional sorting will be done by hand. It is not only the city that will benefit from this project, but surrounding municipalities can also contract with the aforementioned facilities to have their waste sent to be disposed of properly. On the day of the groundbreaking ceremony, city Mayor Todd Strange said, “The beauty of this project is that residents don’t have to do anything differently, all of the separatings takes place at the MRF (material recovery center). The economic boost this brings combined with the environmental benefits makes it another win-win for our community” (Recycling Today, 2013). The Montgomery residents need to gear up towards manual recycling while the iREP gets ready for functioning.
The question thus arises regarding the worth of this venture since this project will assuredly require a large investment. In this ever-changing economy, the first programs in most companies to get cut are recycling programs. Nevertheless, a large number of Americans are holding steadfast to their belief that recycling is indeed worth the extra time and money. In fact, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the year 2011, Americans generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled only 87 million tons from that (EPA.gov, 2013). This is equivalent to roughly a 35% recycling rate in our country. While these numbers are not exactly dismal, the numbers must be increased if we wish to leave behind a beautiful world for our future generations. We want them to have the privilege of being able to take a walk and enjoy the fresh, clean air and green land. Thankfully, it is not impossible for this dream to become a reality. It all starts with the small steps like the city is courageously attempting to do by building the iREP and adding more drop-off locations while this project is up and running.
There are other ways in which the average American residence can use their personal resources to save the environment. If we simply take a cursory look around our homes, we can find many recyclable items that we would easily label as waste. The very first and the most effective step in saving the environment is reducing the amount of waste we produce. The second step comes through learning how to reuse and recycle items efficiently. This includes something as simple as looking for items with less packaging while shopping at the grocery store. For example, buying a singular, big bag of sugar instead of numerous, small, individual packets. Another easy solution is through the purchasing of reusable shopping bags; people will not have to rely on plastic bags to carry their groceries.
There are many stores in Montgomery that are earth-friendly and are also environmentally conscious and thus visibly attempt to increase the number of recycled items they sell. They sell many varieties of organic food and other products which are eco-friendly. A surprising amount of containers of vitamins, shampoos, lotions, and many other personal items are also made from recycled materials. They even have reusable milk bottles, which are made from recycled glass! People can buy locally produced organic milk in these bottles and bring them back for the next purchase of milk. I, personally, have made a conscious attempt to increase the number of groceries I buy from these kinds of stores, and have also spread the word to family members and friends. Over the past few years, I have seen a rise in the popularity of such establishments and the increased frequency that people go to these stores nowadays.
In the Indian community of Montgomery, we strive to organize a large number of events and gatherings on a monthly basis. As our community has grown, more and more people show up for every function. As a whole, we have not taken our role in the community lightly in terms of recycling opportunities. In fact, last year the committee decided that instead of using paper products for food and drinks, they should use washable dishes and cups. At first, this idea did not receive enough support because it required extra funding and was time-consuming; however, many people started to recognize the merit of the idea and soon we began using reusable dishes and cups. Since then, we have been using glassware for all the events and have also hired some workers to help with the cleanup.
This is a small but very important step towards creating a cleaner and pollution-free community, which will not happen by itself. One of my favourite quotes, as eloquently stated by U. S. Senator Mark Udall is, “Our livelihood is intimately tied to the food we eat, the water we drink and places where we recreate. That’s why we have to promote responsibility and conservation when it comes to our natural resources” (2013). While the change from paper products to reusable dishware may seem insignificant, in the long run, it will not only benefit our environment but also give our future generations a beautiful world in which to live.
As aforementioned it is unfortunate and concerning that the overall recycling rate is drastically dropping in Montgomery due to the discontinuation of the curbside pickup program. Though constructing high technology recycling plants will solve this problem, at least for the short term, local residents can still contribute in practicing the three R’s to conserve natural resources.
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