Recycling is equally cool and necessary

Recycling is equally cool and necessary

Recycling is equally cool and necessary
May 31
11:00 2018

I recently read an article from a rhetorician named Jodie Nicotra who argued that material objects have a rhetoric. One example she gave was a personal account of her move to Finland where she was forced to pay attention to the ways she handled trash. In Finland, she was given small bins for waste, recyclable materials and compost in her apartment. She argued that those bins were the objects that persuaded her to take care of her trash conscientiously.

After reading the article, in which she vividly described trash items piling up on her counters, I started to think about my own trash practices. In my apartment (that I share with three roommates) we have to take out the trash at least once a day. We all have drinks we love — for me it’s Dr. Pepper — and were previously throwing those aluminum cans and plastic bottles in the trash without a second thought.

Recycling in Denton is actually pretty easy. For those of us who don’t live in houses and have the luxury of curbside pickup, there are three drop-off locations for recyclable materials in Denton. We all go to, or at least drive by the Square every week. In fact, the drop-off location I go to is  in the parking lot of Cupboard Natural Foods (may it rest in peace).

You just have to separate boxboard and cardboard, and the rest goes in the other collection dumpsters. The City of Denton website explains that in two weeks cardboard is made into a new 100 percent recycled cardboard box. I only have to go about once a week for a total of six people collecting recyclables.

Now, let me throw some facts at you. At first, I was only thinking about recycling plastic bottles and cans, but there’re more materials out there that people are wasting every day. Steel cans, paper, plastic numbers one through seven, glass bottles and cartons are all recyclable in Denton as well.

According to a Pew Research Center study, the amount of waste recycled in the U.S. has not significantly changed since 2006. This fact is concerning because recycling helps the environment by not generating as much waste in landfills, reducing pollution and conserving natural resources like timber and oil. The Waste Management website says that recycling one ton of aluminum saves 10 cubic yards of landfill space. It also says that “the United States throws away enough glass bottles and jars to fill a 1,350 square foot building every week.” So, you could recycle your glass bottles and jars, or contribute to building the equivalent of a three-bedroom home made from and filled with glass in a landfill.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy to recycle depending on where you live. Like I said, I live in an apartment complex that does not have recycling dumpsters next to the waste dumpsters, so I have to take the recyclable materials to one of the three centers in Denton. I am from a small, rural town near Amarillo, and recycling is something people don’t do there because it isn’t convenient. Another Pew Research Center study found that “about three-in-ten Americans (28 percent) say their local community’s social norms strongly encourage recycling and re-use.”

This issue needs to be addressed by local governments.

Instituting a local recycling system that is collected similarly to the way trash is collected would help people be more inspired to recycle due to its convenience. Additionally, when doing activities in a public space, there needs to be recycling bins available. The option simply just needs to be there, so that the norms surrounding recycling can start to shift in a positive way.

At a national level, I believe the government is not doing enough to protect the environment, along with 62 percent of Americans according to a Gallup poll from last month. Recycling is a small act we can do as individuals to take care of the environment right now, but Congress has an opportunity to make sweeping changes to protect the environment across the nation.

The same Gallup poll also found that 57 percent of Americans would prioritize the environment over economic growth, while just 35 percent favored economic growth. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actually claims that recycling creates jobs, and recycling activities in one year accounted for 757,000 jobs.

Another disheartening environmental issue is that President Donald Trump announced since taking office the U.S. will not be participating in the Paris Climate Accords, which is a global effort to keep the global temperature from increasing to 2 degrees Celsius.

One of the biggest discoveries since I have started recycling in my daily life is the startling fact that I generate so much trash. And it used to just be something I never really thought about before, I just did it, even though I knew in the back of my mind it was wasteful to throw all those empty Dr. Pepper cans away. I read one article that changed my awareness to action, and I believe that’s all it takes.

My hope is that even if recycling isn’t seemingly convenient for you, you will find a way to recycle anyway. Stop for a second and imagine how many times you have to take out the trash per week, how many sodas you drink or water bottles you throw out, how many steel soup cans you eat. Reduse, reuse, recycle — words I live by.

Featured Image: Illustration by Gabby Evans

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Kelly Fox

Kelly Fox

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