Saturday, December 4, 2010

Recycling; Encouraging Bad Behavior?

By Harry Gutman, '14   -    We all tend to think that if we toss glass, plastic, or paper into a recycling bin that we are doing are part for the environment. That couldn’t be more wrong! Recycling is really just making the best of a bad situation. Don’t assume that when one recycles a plastic bottle it turns into another bottle, because it doesn’t. Only half of that original plastic is reused! The reused plastic is sent to China where the vast majority of the recycling process takes place and is turned into cloth items like fleece and blankets and then it is shipped back to the US to be sold. When the public buys “their own trash” they
use it until they are sick of it and then throw it out. Therefore the original plastic recycled ends up in a landfill like it would if you threw out the bottle in the first place.

We all know that carbon is bad for the environment, but did you ever think that recycling emits arguably more carbon than throwing an item in the trash does? Let me inform you of the journey our recyclables take. Our friend Dear Park and his little buddy Poland Spring our are first picked up by a recycling truck (EMITTING CARBON) which than takes it to a boat. That boat travels to China (EMITTING CARBON) where our friends are turned into a nice snuggie (EMITTING CARBON). After being turned into a lovely blanket with sleeves, they are sent back on a boat to America where they are bought (EMITTING CARBON). The consumer of the product realizes that he doesn’t want the out of trend snuggie anymore and throws it out. The garbage truck comes to pick it up and then it is placed into a landfill for 24,000 years (EMITTING CARBON).  Congrats you have now left a carbon foot print the size of Shaq’s sneaker size.
Don’t get me wrong recycling serves an important purpose but all of us really need to concentrate on reusing and repurposing rather than recycling. Next time you are heading out of the house and you are thirsty try to restrain from the easy plastic bottle rout and go for an eco-friendly reusable bottle.

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