Recycling to Create a Healthier Ecosystem
Recycling has been around for as far back as we can remember. From reusing glass bottles and jars to bringing our own containers and grocery bags to reduce the consumption of plastic and paper products, recycling has become part and parcel (pun unintended) of our daily lives.
We might feel that doing our part to recycle is nothing but a small drop in global sustainability and ecological balance...but here’s how your effort really contributes in the grander scheme of things.
There is a staggering amount of trash generated in the USA alone
...yet there is also a good amount of effort to recycle this trash. In 2009 alone, America produced enough garbage to form circles around the earth 2 dozen times! However, in the same year, 82 million tons of that trash were either recycled or composted.
A large portion of waste - around 75% - can be recycled, but overall attempt to do so results in just around 30% of those being recycled or reused. This is why it’s a good idea to widen the scope of your efforts, such as starting a recycling and sustainability program within your own social circles.
The most sustainable countries in the world are judged for their environmental policies and energy sources
Sweden is currently considered the most sustainable country in the world, thanks to its effective recycling programs. The recycling revolution in this country started with the goal towards zero waste. Today, more than 99% of household waste in Sweden is recycled, compared to just 38% back in 1975. Recyclable materials such as newspapers, light bulbs, batteries, plastic, and others are separated in individual homes and then dropped off at nearby recycling centers. Food waste is mostly composted.
Sustainability reports often judge countries by their environmental policies, biodiversity, energy sources and use, and emissions. Sweden has already implemented a bus system that reduces fuel consumption by about 75% (compared to diesel-run buses). This move will eventually mean that carbon dioxide emissions in the country will be cut by up to 80%, and overall energy consumption by as much as 60%.
Overflowing landfills are one of the biggest contributors to environmental problems
Plenty of non-biodegradable waste like rubber tires and plastic end up in millions of landfills across the country. Tires, in particular, take up a high volume and void space in a single landfill - as much as 75%. They can become breeding grounds for harmful insects and rodents (and consequently, diseases), and carry contaminants which can adversely affect the quality of our soil, air, and water.
Many states have already banned the existence of scrap tires in landfills. Even better, there are existing state legislations encouraging recycling and reuse of these tires. Rubber mulch is a product of these recycling programs, and has proven to be a great solution to overflowing landfills and the abundance of discarded rubber tires.
If we are to learn anything from Sweden’s successful zero waste program leading to a total recycling revolution, it is that it starts with the efforts of an individual home. For an entire nation to achieve something of this magnitude, it has to begin with ourselves and our own family.