Since we were “young” depending on your era (coming from a 22 year old), recycling has always been on our minds when disposing of litter and is nothing new – even before the current environmental cautious age.
Why should we recycle? Simple aye… The art of re-using the material of a product for a new life, essentially re-birthing the material. Almost like the Buddhist reincarnation belief where after death you come back as a different animal.
The art of recycling has many benefits, recycling reduces the need for extracting (mining, quarrying and logging), refining and processing raw materials all of which create substantial air and water pollution. As recycling saves energy it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which helps to tackle climate change.
So, with technology today we should be able to use anything that has been thrown away again right? Not everything can be recycled, even if it’s made up of recyclable materials. Plastics like clothes hangers, grocery bags, and toys aren’t always recyclable in your curbside bin. Other things that aren’t recyclable include Styrofoam, bubble wrap, dishes, and electronic cords.
Recyling has more benefits than you think…
EPA released significant findings on the economic benefits of the recycling industry with an update to the national Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study in 2016. This study analyzes the numbers of jobs, wages and tax revenues attributed to recycling. The study found that in a single year, recycling and reuse activities in the United States accounted for:
- 757,000 jobs
- $36.6 billion in wages; and
- $6.7 billion in tax revenues.
This equates to 1.57 jobs, $76,000 in wages, and $14,101 in tax revenues for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled.
Personally, I believe you should be able to recycle anything. Out of the earlier paragraph, lets take dishes and electronic cords as the exhibits you ‘can’t’ recycle. (Can’t is a terrible word by the way)
For electronic cords, there are always computer wizards out there looking to build new computers and other general electronic equipment. Why put them in a bin to be inevitably dispersed into a landfill for eternity when there could be a computer science intern looking to build a charging dock station from scrap materials.
Your wire that powered your old Playstation 2 for example, do you have any idea where the wires to that are? You probably don’t and I’m almost certain that you didn’t try to ‘recycle’ them… Probably because it didn’t spring to mind like recycling a plastic water bottle would.
The point from all this is that old saying “Another man’s trash, is another man’s treasure” so recycling doesn’t necessarily mean rummaging through your garbage for the week and separating those materials that are eligible to be used again.
It means all that stuff either going in a skip or a dumb could be used to good fortune by someone else with completely different intentions i.e. that computer wizard, or that underground artist using broken plates to symbolize domestic violence? You name it, they’ll be someone out there for something so completely mundane it will boggle your mind.
Just like you use second hand tyres to make or fix a car, the same can be said for basically everything and anything if were talking about re-using as the epitome of recycling.
The moral of this article is to not limit recycling to the bin, but expand it to your neighbour.
Think before you throw!
Credit: William Wand – The Figure Head