People today often wonder: What is this product made of? Where does my waste go? Today, the world of the 21st century slowly spirals towards environmental collapse. Pollutants cluster in the busy airways of cities. Wasteland replaces paradise. This disaster is mostly due to inaction of humans on the prevention of wasting resources. A reduce-reuse recycle policy was implemented to try to fix this problem, but even so, resources dwindle. As a whole, humans are not doing enough to uphold the sustainability of the environment.
The main reason for this ecological disaster is that most people are unaware of the state of the environment, and this leads to the further downward trend of the fitness of nature. Take recycling, for instance. Its significance and use has been spread far and wide, yet non recyclable items are still thrown into the blue bins. This ruins both the point of recycling and the items that are being recycled. One banana peel in the wrong bin spoils the whole batch.
Think of it as switching urinals and drinking fountains; now, we don’t want that to happen. Right? The reverse also occurs frequently: recyclable items are trashed.
Paper, metal, glass, plastics; these are among the most useful yet overlooked recyclables. When good, recyclable paper is wasted, its lifetime is also wasted. Think of it as taking out a toy, playing with it once, and then throwing it away. Both cost time, money, and resources to replace, so overall, wasting is not an economical decision to begin with.
The most horrendous act of all is littering. Littering is where both waste and recyclables are left outisde to rot. This decreases sanitation, increases waste, and damages the environment. Most of this confusion is due to people’s visualization of recycling; it’s just another unimportant part of their lives that is easily overlooked, right? Wrong. Recycling is a key part of sustainability, as it directly minimizes waste and maximizes utility.
So there are people who don’t care about recycling, and people that care. Those that don’t care are ignorant of where their waste is going; those that do aren’t doing enough. The truth is that the status quo simply is not good enough to support life on earth. A UN report made last month states that 22 countries produce hazardous wastes while only 11 of them recycle wastes (Annan). This means that, not factoring in the efficiency of those recycling countries, only half of the used products are recycled. The VivBiz Club gives us more statistics about recyclables:
Each year we consume an estimated 500 billion – 1 trillion plastic bags worldwide. Over 380 billion plastic bags are consumed in the US each year, costing $4 billion. In the past 45 years, use of plastics has increased a hundredfold. Making products from recycled glass uses less energy than starting from scratch. (“Recycling Guide: Plastic, Glass, Metal, Paper, and More”) Since the world is using increasing amounts of energy and consumable material resources, the need to recycle and conserve becomes more urgent than ever. Especially in the United States, more must be done to uphold the Three Rs.
Because of lack of awareness and lack of conserving, people have an obligation to make a change for the better. This will help the economy enormously by cutting down on the costs of harvesting materials for making products using paper, plastics, glass, and metals. Especially for paper, conserving more will save trees, preventing a collapse of the biosphere. People around the world have made a change in their habits to save resources, and so can you. Spread the word. Figure out what your product is made out of. Learn where your waste goes, both material and biological. Come to the greener side.