What is Recycling?

February 22nd, 2013

If we want to switch to a more eco-friendly, sustainable planet, changes need to be initiated by the United States. With a population of over 300 million, second to only China and India, and home to countless influential and wealthy individuals, the US has no excuse to lag behind in habits such as recycling!

I noticed California’s lack of recycling practices while in San Diego this past week for reading break. I was there for a tournament with the T-Birds, and of course everyday we accumulate a lot of plastic water, gatorade, and juice bottles. The tournament was held at the beautiful University of California San Diego campus, and at the end of the day, our team, a bunch of thirsty and recycling-consicous girls, found ourselves regretfully mixing our empty bottles with the trash. There just simply were no recycling bins! Even looking at my gatorade receipts from the large grocery store chains, there were no $0.05 deposit fees tacked onto every bottle sold. How can recycling-consious people recycle if there is no way to? And further, how and why would non-recyclers have any incentive to practice recycling if their are no easy means to do so? If a state, or country, wants to promote recycling, there needs to be adequate recycling bins. Sure, there must be recycling depots somewhere in San Diego, but of course our team is time-bound and the effort of finding the depots and driving over to them probably counteracts the task. To give them credit, the University had specific recycling bins for bottles outside the residence where we stayed on campus, but that was no where near the fields. In order for the University to encourage sustainable recycling practices, there needs to be adequate recycling bins to help individuals make the switch as easy and effortless as possible!

Another example is going into Starbucks while I was over there. I can’t remember where our exact conversation stemmed from, but I had a short chat with the barista as she was punching my order into the register. Somehow the topic of recycling came up – maybe I had an empty bottle I needed to throw away – and I asked her if she had a bin somewhere I could toss it other than the garbage can. She said no, and then to my surprise, commented that it wasn’t really necessary after I suggested that they needed and should implement one. If this was the response of an ordinary American, working an average job, what was the response of the majority of other Americans? Do they all have this view about sustainability and recycling??! Mind blowing. A concept so simple as to sorting recyclables and garbage, that extends so far, yet a pointless hassle in the minds of many. Perhaps a large reason why many Americans think this way is because they are not educated in the risks of not starting sustainable practices to our planet – for change to happen, it needs to start in the States!

Another example I have is travelling to Austin, Texas last year for another tournament. No where in that city did I see recycling bins. Texas is worse than California! If only the government implemented deposit fees to consumers that was automatically tacked onto their purchase when buying bottles, then maybe people would change their habits. Maybe it wouldn’t change how the consumer views recycling, but if they do it because it could save them money, then at least its a step in the right direction. While I was in Sweden in the fall, the deposit fee for cans or bottles were $0.15! You have to be crazy to not be more conscious about returning your bottles to grocery stores, the high fee definitely made me worry about recycling – you could guarantee that I returned all my bottles to get back my money – it all adds up!

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