Take the extra two steps, recycle

Janna Herchenroder '14, Staff Writer

There is only one of me and one of you…but let us turn that into a hopeful realization. Do you ever notice how seeing someone do something good or even just hearing about it can brighten your day and give you hope for humanity? Other people watch what you do and act in relation to what you do; they can be your peers, or more importantly your children.

Do you ever wonder who that is who is giving you the dirty look or has their face pressed against the window while you’re innocently trying to toss your soda can into the garbage? Well, let me introduce myself: I’m that girl you call the “Environmentalist Tree Hugging Nut” and I am trying to encourage you with a look, a word or the action of thumbing through the trash myself, to put the recyclables in their appropriate bins. How hard is it really to step literally two feet from the garbage can to the little blue bin?

My question is: why is it me that gets a label, and you don’t? Let us, for argument sake, find a title for you. Actually, I won’t because that would be rude and completely hypocritical of what I am trying to achieve. Giving a derogatory name to you even goes against the action of recycling itself; the fact that I sort out my papers, plastics, glass, and aluminum from the garbage makes me a considerate person. Don’t walk away yet, please let me explain myself.

Whenever you throw recyclable containers in the trash you are saying “It doesn’t matter to me the effect that I have on the world” or “My children are just not important enough for me to take that extra step”. Consider that whenever you recycle, you’re saving new materials from being created. Reshaping materials that have already been made is substantially saving energy; it also decreases the amount of pollution created by factories creating plastics, aluminum, and paper. You are also allowing clean oxygen to be created by aged trees that would be cut down to create paper that we already have in abundance. Think of all of the paper you accumulate from each class. When I empty out my binders and folders at the end of the semester I see that I have easily been carrying around at least a 30 year old Maple. So even one person is making a difference here, multiply that on a larger scale. Keeping these materials in the cycle substantially decreases the amount that is buried in the ground in landfills.

What did we do to deserve living in this world? Nothing. Our ancestors and all other creatures that came before us left the Earth in the condition we found it in. We did not create our surroundings, but we have power over what the Earth is like when we leave – an inevitability of our future.

Maybe it is simply a matter of thinking about it differently. When you are a guest at a house and you make a mess, you clean up after yourself; it is just common courtesy and shows respect. Where would we be if we didn’t have a world to live in? Don’t say Mars…please don’t say Mars. Does any other planet have apple trees, beaches, or oxygen? No. And even if there were other planets like ours, do we want to be that species that jumps from planet to planet leaving nothing inhabitable in our wake? Doesn’t that seem selfish? Since we now live in a very globally connected society, having a broad view about the impact of our everyday habits is extremely important.

So please keep a bag for recyclables in your dorm and think before you throw something away. You will save me the effort of diving into the garbage can and sorting through it myself.