Recycling. It's a word one hears on a daily basis. In school, on the radio, even on the subway (which is not so big on waste management), people are talking about recycling. But just what is recycling?
Well, recycling is (basically) the process of creating new material from waste as a alternative to simply throwing that waste away. We only recycle about 30% of recyclable material, meaning 40% of recyclable material is simply sent to a dump. Despite this, we come in contact with hundreds of recycled objects every day. Take your water bottle, for example. Today, a large number of water bottles are made from recycled materials. Try checking yours to see if it has been made from the lucky recyclable material, which made the cut. Now begin to imagine the life this water bottle lead before being reincarnated into it's current form. What purpose did it serve? Was it used to package an action figure before it was ripped open by a Star Wars loving environmentalist? Perhaps it was a prosthetic leg for a person who no longer had use for it owing to the miracles of modern science. It might have even been a plastic container used to dissolve a body a la Breaking Bad. As you can see, there is an endless list to what we can recycle.
However, Americans continue to carelessly waste recyclable materials such as bottles. In fact, Studies show that Americans throw out 25,000,000 bottles every hour. I'll save you the math that makes for 600,000,000 bottles a day. That's 600,000,000 bottles, which could be reused in any number of different ways, just being tossed into the trash can. Speaking of cans, recycling just one aluminum can will save enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod. Recycling one hundred of these cans will produce enough energy to light you bedroom for a week.
One of the most commonly recycled materials is paper, which in 2010 had increased 89% since 1990 in terms of being recycled. That is tons upon tons of recycled paper. This has an incalculable affect on the environment as it means millions of trees are saved every year. It also means that you could be reading this from a sheet of paper which once held a discarded Van Gogh painting, meaning that I have significantly decreased the value of a potentially priceless piece of art... Sorry.