By ANJALI MADGULA, senior
We are all familiar with the three R’s. We have all sniffled during Wall-e when he finds the one little green plant on a desolate planet Earth. We have all made little projects out of recyclable material for one class or the other and learned about the adverse effects of pollution and landfills. Yet unfortunately, an overwhelming amount of students do not take the time to take action for environmental issues. However, recycling, in particular, has become such a redundant battlecry that no one pays attention to it anymore. Think about how many things we throw out in one day: pizza boxes, advertisments, water bottles, and lunch trays. More than half of solid waste (110 million tons) in the United States is disposed in landfills. This makes the United States one of the top contributors to worldwide landfill waste and New Jersey one of the most polluted states in the nation. While JP Stevens students are actively scribbling away pages of class notes, (or doodling ancient hieroglyphics) how come we don’t take the simple extra measure to recycle?
In the privacy of our homes and near the cafeteria trash disposal areas, we sometimes let the occasional plastic cup and brown bag settle into the gray trash cans. Sometimes, we just believe that our one little decision will not change anything or that enough people around us will make up for it. Or maybe we think that someone sorts through the trash and will probably be able to right our wrongs. They probably get paid for that, right? The answer is no. No one sorts through tons of trash; it goes straight to the landfills and releases toxic gases like methane into groundwater and soil. But, people do sort through recycled material and they separate recyclable matter so that it can be processed and reused. The rest will still make its way back to the landfill. Accidently recycling something too soiled to be recycled is not as costly as throwing out a perfectly good water bottle. Furthermore, some people believe that recycling is a waste of tax money and that we are spending tons of money for a process that barely helps. In truth, the process is amazing, not only for our quality of our lives, but also for our economy. Recycling makes for cheaper production costs because products don’t need to be made from scratch from raw natural resources and use less energy and water. Not to mention, it creates more jobs. Lastly, we have those who simply are too lazy to find a blue bin to dispose of their items. Environmental issues are only going to get worse and more complicated. We cannot just wait till something completely drastic happens to champion environmental activism.
At the same time, I do understand where some of the hesitancy comes from. It is hard to figure out what exact things can or cannot be recycled. The emphasis on recycling was not as prominent as it has been until the late 1990’s. Recycling is still a new thing for older generations. Yet, that makes it all the more reason for us to kick into high gear now that awareness is spreading. Better and more visible labeling for recyclable products is necessary to increase recycling outcomes. Furthermore, promotion for environmental activism could be more prominent in our education system. For elementary schools, it should be education that is required by law. More people should be encouraged to pursue careers in environmental sciences and environmental engineering so more innovative technology can be created to combat issues. Without our support now and onwards, things will certainly get worse.
To quote Leonardo Dicaprio’s Oscar speech,”Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” If Leo can dedicate his much awaited Oscar speech to environmentalism, you can make a pledge to continue or begin to recycle. Saving our planet is not something that should come secondary to any political quarrel or breaking news. It is something we should all participate in regardless of any divisions amongst our human race.
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