Reduce, Reuse, Recycle?

Katie Wickersham, Editorial Staff Writer

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I’d say I can speak for a large percentage of the school when I say that since we were little we have always been taught, “Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!” between the assemblies in elementary to the constant Achieve 3000 articles on recycling, I know at least I have seen enough of those three green arrows on every other poster. Yes recycling is a pain and yes it’s not the most fun thing to do, but its saving and helping mother nature and she really needs some help right now. But here is where my question comes in. is recycling really the answer?

A couple months back, I read an article talking about how China isn’t taking our plastic anymore. Basically America produces a lot of plastic we ship it off to China and they make it into toys, bags, phone cases, and pretty much anything else that you could ever imagine. But eventually the trash that was being shipped into China became too difficult and pricey to recycle. China started to reduce how much plastic they were taking. Slowly China was taking less and less of our plastic until finally In January 2018 China banned almost all plastic imports and took less than 1% of our plastic. Things like shampoo bottles and yogurt containers are left with no place to go. Most recycled trash is ending up in landfills, according to Keefe Harrison, who owns a non profit called the  Recycling Partnership. It will also have an effect on other smaller countries that cannot handle the plastic intake, such as Vietnam and Malaysia who are starting to reduce their plastic intake due to similar reasons.

Now, China not taking America’s plastic sounds like a big issue, but why should I care. I mean everyone is always saying, “the world is dying and we only have a couple more years!” Well, that’s awful, but I still have to wake up every morning to get dressed, go to school, do my homework, go to my friends, and trying to fit in saving the environment with my little bit of free time doesn’t seem very realistic. I mean the Amazon is burning down, but I think my math teacher is still going to give me an F if I tell him I couldn’t do my homework because I was “saving the Amazon”. And now on top of all of that, the one thing I do ,recycling, doesn’t even help the environment anymore? 

As much as it’s easy to think that, there are many other things that we can do. Such as composting. You can roll your eyes at me, but if every human being composted this world would be a better place. Of course not everything that is bought can be composted, but there are plenty of things that can. Another plus of composting is it helps to grow a garden. For example, in my family we grow herbs and vegetables. Before this every time we were making dinner someone would have to run to the store to buy an herb (or something like that) that we needed for the meal. Once we buy that herb, it normally packaged in plastic, so now that we have all of them growing in our yard, that’s one less package that we are sending off to a landfill. 

Furthermore, there are little things you can do. Such as thinking twice before you buy something. If there is an option that is packed in cardboard, maybe you can sacrifice a specific type of pasta to not throw away yet another piece of plastic. This goes for everything that you buy. If you are buying items that are packaged in plastic, think about ways that you can reuse this plastic at home. There are plenty of small steps that you can take to help you become more sustainable. 

All in all, Plastic has become an epidemic in America. Humans are producing more trash than ever, and the recycling business can’t keep up. Humans need to become more sustainable, and less reliant on plastic/recycling. I know I haven’t come up with all the answers to our plastic problems, but every little thing that one can do counts. 

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