In your lifetime, you’ll produce enough trash to fill in five trucks or more. To fill in a few trucks, the waste has to be at least 9 times your average body weight, so that’s about 600 kilograms. We live life with a pretty light hand, spending and using resources without a second thought.
What we need to realize is that we live on a planet with finite resources and if we continue to live with the lifestyle we’ve grown too accustomed, the planet will run out of resources. Adapting a green lifestyle, choosing the more environmentally friendly alternative and recycling, will help save the planet for future generations.
By reducing the number of things we use, by reusing what we’ve already used, we can reduce the amount of waste we produce. Let’s look into how we can contribute to recycling!
Why is Recycling Important?
The trash you throw away just doesn’t’ disappear without ending up somewhere else. It’s somewhat like the law of energy, it can neither be created nor destroyed, only transferred. The trash you throw away either ends up in landfills or is burnt in an incinerated, turning into air pollution. If it ends up in a landfill, it’ll stay there for years. Landfills are terrible for the earth that they use. Landfills create toxic soil and this toxicity ends up as water pollution, killing off fish.
Recycling takes the burden off of the earth or at least reduces it. When you recycle, the item that you would have thrown away, that would have ended up at the landfill for years and years, is now extending its usefulness. When you do dispose of items, make sure you recycle them. Metals, plastic, glass, paper, almost everything can be recycled!
We’re producing more paper than we have ever before, over 90 million tons of paper is produced every year. To make just one ton of paper, 17 trees, 19,000 gallons of water and 360 gallons of oil is used up.
If this figure worries you, it should! But fret not because you can change that and contribute to change! We’re also recycling the most of amount of paper we’ve ever done. Paper is highly recyclable, a single sheet can be recycled 5-7 times, depending on its type. There might some difficulty because of this. White printer paper used in homes and offices is the highest form of paper because it’s made of better raw material. The higher the quality of the paper, the better the quality of products you can make from it. So one can make more white paper from the disposed of ones. Lower quality paper such as paper towels or newspaper, junk mail or cardboard can be made into lower quality paper such as ‘newsprint’.
So for cardboard, currently, 70% of the cardboard boxes used commercially are recycled. Cardboard boxes are made of recycled material such as sawdust, wood chips or recycled cardboard itself. Recycled cardboard can be made into paperboard, paper towels, tissues or even writing a paper.
The cardboard is repulped, it’s fibers are separated and then it is bleached. The fibers are screened for any contaminants as well. After screening it’s washed to remove any ink or marks that may be left on the surface. The fibers are then compressed to make paper and the paper is then converted into new products.
The U.S currently disposes off of 2.7 million tons of aluminum each year. And of that amount, around 50% is recycled. Recycling empty cans and steel saves 74% of the amount it takes to produce them.
Steel cans that contain soda are 100% recyclable. For an aluminum can go from a can, to waste to being recycled into a new can takes 60 days. There are many facilities that pay you for aluminum cans to send them off for recycling.
In a recycling facility, a giant magnet separates the metals from the rest of the disposal. They’re dropped off on a conveyor belt where they’re taken to be shredded and washed. At the end of this process, we’re left with aluminum chips.
These aluminum chips are then melted in a furnace and cast into ingots, blocks of metal. These ingots are taken to a factory where they’re used to make thin metal sheets. These sheets are used by manufacturers to make new products, such as new aluminum cans, aluminum foils and much more.
The same goes for steel cans. 36.5 billion Steel cans are used every year in America and about 71% of all steel cans produced are recycled, making them one of the most recycled products in America.
Recycling plastic is pretty tricky as you have to make sure the plastic is clean. If a plastic is unclean, it can contaminate other plastics and those can be rejected for recycling. Plastic bottles, jars, and jugs are the ones that can be recycled easily without issue.
Why is Recycling a Challenge?
The only real issue with recycling is that people just aren’t bothered enough to do it. The myths you hear that plastic isn’t recyclable or it doesn’t have an impact are just that, myths.
Convincing people is the only hard part of recycling. If we can collectively just do a few acts, raise awareness and compel people to recycle, we’d have a world that is sustainable and one that lasts longer. Recycling should now be considered as survival, we must adopt a lifestyle that is sustainable, one that incorporates recycling, greener living and one that needs to survive for tomorrow. It is our responsibility to the earth as it’s citizens. Let’s do it!
Thank you for taking some time to read this article. I hope you will be able to contribute to your community in any way or form possible to raise awareness on why recycling is important. Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.