Why we need to focus more on recycling

The other morning, I came into school in search of a recycling bin to dispose of my energy drink, only to come to the conclusion that we don’t have recycling bins. Every earth day, we hear the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle, only to forget about it until the following year. We as a school, and we as a society need to talk about the environment year-round and not just annually.  We need to prioritize providing more compost and recycling bins, not only because it will make our school cleaner, but because it will teach our students the importance of not always doing everything the convenient way.

From the news to the occasional “don’t litter” reminder, most students have a general understanding of why they shouldn’t throw away recyclables. However, some may still argue that it doesn’t make that big of an impact. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the environmental benefits of recycling  “include reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills and combustion facilities; conserving natural resources, such as timber, water, and minerals; and preventing pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials.” Sometimes composting and recycling can be labeled as inconvenient which scares people away from doing what they know is right. The only way to beat a problem is to deal with it, regardless of whether it is inconvenient or not. 

Furthermore, the need to reuse isn’t emphasized enough. I find that I don’t hear enough realistic examples when it comes to how to reuse. I often hear impractical tips or tips that would take too much effort to convince people to implement in their life. I believe some realistic examples are reusing Ziploc bags by washing them out or using magazines or scrap paper for wrapping paper. If humans stay conscious, make an effort, and prioritize problems beyond themselves then our school, community, and world will be a cleaner and healthier place.

The city of East Grand Rapids is fortunate enough to have a variety of companies that, when paid, will come door-to-door weekly to pick up resident’s recyclables. However, this opportunity is not utilized enough. For example, at East Grand Rapids High School it is up to the teacher to decide whether they provide a recycling bin or not, and if they do, then they are responsible for making sure those objects get recycled.  This lack of consistency causes more recyclables to be thrown away because kids will be less likely to look for a recycling bin since they assume they won’t be able to find one. We as a school need to move funding eco-friendly movements to the top of our priority list because, if we don’t, we will pile the landfills higher, and hurt our planet even more. In order to make sure we are not wasting this opportunity, we need to supply recycling bins in the common areas.  

At the end of the day, our problems aren’t going to solve themselves so mind as well make an effort to change them. Remind yourself of the environmental consequences of your action and focus on reducing and overcoming inconvenience in order to stay more conscious of our planet. If you’re extra passionate about the environment, reach out to teachers and the administration to promote the idea of providing more recycling bins. A difference can be made, it’s now up to you whether you’re going to make it.