Many things come to mind when discussing clean air and atmosphere. Recycling is a topic that is brought to my attention daily, and impacts the Globe in a substantial way. In general I would say the amount that we consume and dispose of has become more talked about, however a lot of people are still in the shadows about why exactly this has a huge effect on our air, as well as water and land.
It is no secret to how much we produce being an unhealthy issue. The amount of waste we waste has a impact on what happens as it deteriorates. The effect on our air, that this mess leads to is what I have been reading about. Besides the waste, the process and industry are key components that go into efforts of disposing properly.
The process of the average recyclable is from production and transportation, to: shelf, home, bin, and then? Most cities use recycling facilities to separate and cleanse reusable options then those go on to various facilities which continue to sort and compress or are shipped to places that do the same. Although last year a New York Times article said that cities have been throwing recycling in the trash and switching to landfills due to China, a significant buyer of U.S waste, changed their standards of contamination “impossible to meet, while others are trying to clean up their recycling streams by slowing down their processing facilities, limiting the types of materials they accept or trying to better educate customers on what belongs in the recycling bin… Recycling on the street no longer has a place to go…at any price or cost”
Earlier this year Times, again, reported more cities dumping recycling because of the prices increasing due to the same issue, “too much trash was mixed in with recyclable materials like cardboard and certain plastics. After that, Thailand and India started to accept more imported scrap, but even they are imposing new restrictions.”
This has a domino effect of making hard choices about whether to raise taxes, cut services due to the higher costs. Cities and towns should not have to choose between ways to help because of budgeting.
Recycling as an industry itself has limitations. The marketplace ends up being what drives the need for specific plastics cleaned, dishonoring the original goal; simply to reduce, reuse and recycle. Although standards and sanitation are priorities, it is important to look at the industry in the first place. Recycling has multiple benefits to other issues we face. Using renewable energy recycling reduces air pollution. This allows us to avoid greenhouse gas emissions from landfills and incinerators. The more power we use, fossil fuels are burned this increased use sends more pollutants in the atmosphere. This is greatly affected when the demand for power is not needed, “Collecting, processing and shipping recycled materials to industrial users requires less energy than mining, refining, processing and shipping raw materials.. improves air quality by reducing the demand for power.” Replacing new materials with recycled materials is one of the most important parts of recycling.
Landfills are a direct human source of methane. Air quality around landfills is substantially worse and known to be harmful. An issue that arises: the materials that get pushed into them. Biodegradables become powerful contributors to greenhouse gas emissions.”Compostable materials such as food waste and paper decompose without oxygen in a landfill, producing methane (CH4 ) which has 23-71 times greater heat trapping capabilities than carbon dioxide.” A good solution to this is Composting, conserving our resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also is extremely necessary for recycling to sort the biodegrade apart from plastics and paper, otherwise contaminating them for future use.
When reading these articles I found most people want to help but don’t know how. Lack of resources (…money), or do the best they can but don’t see a difference. That idea of being conscious of intake is the difference. Individually starting new habits that are healthier-small things, then change is made. I think that is the learning curve. We don’t have to use what is already there if it isn’t working. When people discover change, stick to it, it will be noticed. The more people the better, the correct information and the action is what it takes. That’s where the difference can be made. By the impact we have on the planet, our job should take that effect and make the process healthy and versatile. We can then expand the market with innovative ways to create new uses from all recyclables and be allowed the time, energy and money it takes to make that possible.
I think that the attention brought to these topics can be daunting to some. If you learn that everyday foods, containers, products, etc. everyone uses are apart of the bigger problem it can be overwhelming and discouraging information. If you get past that, and are willing to want to help, it becomes easier to understand.
The thing I have noticed is it can take minimal effort to help. Just a new habit. Such as buying food locally to reduce transportation and packaging waste, or buying reused / vintage clothes. If these things are not in your routine it can seem like a pain and a nag when it is really just about getting into a different routine. When people in various industries see the demand shift from “more new! more new!” to “we don’t mind reusing and buying locally” the shift will be prominent in our society. You don’t have to go extreme to help, coming from a vegan, you just have to try a little- and when everyone tries a little,it becomes bigger. If enough people want to help, then the process of something like recycling, will become common knowledge.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks to Ronnie Siegel for starting the project! Very cool.
picture : https://good360.org/impact-stories/impact-report-reveals/