why recycling is not enough

No one could deny that recycling can be seen as a great strategy to tackle the amounts of waste humans produce. However, the question is: if we seek to have a great positive impact on our environment, is relying on recycling alone bringing us closer to our desirable goal?

By trying to answer this question, I first started to focus on all the main benefits of recycling:

  • Reduce the amount of waste we send to landfills
  • Saves energy
  • Provides working opportunities in such fields as: recycling & manufacturing
  • Helps us to sustain natural resources, such as: water & minerals
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions

I believe this list provides a fair amount of reasons why anyone should recycle if they are not doing so already. But what about the negative sides of recycling?

Before starting to do my research I can admit, I only knew the main negative side effects of recycling, which are:

Most plastic can’t even be recycled. So we think we are doing a great deed by throwing our plastic waste to recycled bin. There are 7 types of plastic out there and only 2 of them can be recycled. So the other 5 types will head straight into landfill. Turning an old bottle into a new one actually happens very rarely. Very often used bottle’s had to be down-cycled due to the fact that their materials lost the desirable appearance.

Recycling process is known to be another air pollutant. We are trying to do well and reduce our waste, but in the meantime we are polluting our environment. Sounds harsh right? Toxins (airborne) that are produced during recycling are thrown into our atmosphere adding to another big issue out world is facing today- air pollution.

Once researched, I also found these:

Paper Sludge issue. Turns out the road of recycled paper is quite a process. When paper is recycled, it is mixed together into pulp. This pulp then is being washed & cleaned, later formed into new paper. During the paper recycling process all the outsiders, like: ink, cleaning chemicals and paper dyes are being filtered into paper sludge. This sludge then goes straight into a landfill. All those heavy metals and tons of toxins go into groundwater.

The methods we are using are not compelling. Plastic, as I have mentioned before, is a very tricky material and so there are still no efficient ways to tackle the enormous amounts of plastic waste humans produce. For instance, grocery bags, research shows that only a few amounts of plastic bags will be recycled. This is due to the fact that it simply costs a lot of $ for the recycling process to take place. For this reason plastic still stays as the #1 waste issue.

Another thing to remember is that recycling can only work if people are willing to support recycled products. And let’s be honest, not a lot of people do, and not a lot of companies are willing to choose recycled materials. We see some new Eco brands popping up, but until we start to support them, no positive changes will occur.

Solution? I believe the only truthful road is to learn how to lead a more sustainable life. We have to move from the idea that (whilst it has its benefits) recycling is not the only way to go, and expand our efforts to secure a beautiful and flourishing environment for everyone. This can be done only by realising that we are not separate from our surroundings. We are connected with everything and everyone. And our actions matter. Our daily habits matter. Our thoughts matter. I want to encourage you to find areas in your life where you lack sustainable habits and slowly fix them. Maybe it starts with your eating habits, maybe with the way you use electricity around your home, whatever it might be.

Go beyond the recycling bin. Start designing your own waste free life.

Much love 

Greta

 

2 comments so far.

2 responses to “why recycling is not enough”

  1. Great post, it really is mindboggling how we can continue to produce and use (demand) so much plastic without proper solution for recycling it.

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