Column: Make a plan, recycle a can

Column: Make a plan, recycle a can

By Julia Gall

This past summer’s premiere of Al Gore’s documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” has alerted many Americans to the “climate crisis” of global warming and made them more aware of our planet’s overall condition.

The target audience of this film is our generation because it’s our world that will be affected most by this “crisis.” We’re the ones who need to take control of the situation before it gets any worse.

Although the movie centered on energy conservation, I want to stress how the age-old concept of recycling is critical to our world’s well-being. Yet even knowing all that we know now, I still see people, especially students, tossing their recyclables in the trash without a second thought.

But at the risk of sounding very obnoxious and preachy, I’ll explain why it annoys me that people our age are so ignorant about recycling.

I am certain that everyone who ever went to an elementary school became privy to “The 3 Rs” of recycling (“reduce, reuse, recycle”) and probably went on a field trip to their local recycling center and was told all about it. Recycling is seen everywhere and is pretty common these days. It’s impossible not to know about recycling, no matter where you’re from.

With that said, why are people still throwing away bottles and cans in the trash? Seriously, I know how hard it must be while in your building’s trash room to decide where to put your bag full of empty cans: the bin labeled “CANS AND BOTTLES” or the “TRASH” bin.

While the answer may seem quite obvious, I see people making the wrong choice too frequently, and frankly, I’m embarrassed for them. I think that people know better, but choose not to recycle, for one inexplicable reason or another.

My roommate this year told me that she “wasn’t good at recycling.” I told her that this is not an innate skill. I figured it was good she acknowledged the act of recycling, but I still was confused as to why she did not do it. I decided to show her how incredibly easy it was.

This three-step instructional guide is what I like to call “Recycling for Dummies.”

Step 1: Take the bottle or can or plastic container that you have just finished and rinse it out.

Step 2: Put it in your designated recycling bin in your kitchen.

Step 3: When the bin is full, take it to your trash room or out on the curb for recycling day. The same goes for paper and cardboard (minus the rinsing out).

Needless to say, the only difficult part about this is remembering to do it and to get into the habit of doing it. I really don’t think there is an excuse not to.

It makes me cringe to see someone on campus just toss an empty bottle of water in one of the outdoor trashcans on their walk to class. I don’t understand why that person can’t hold it for a few extra minutes until they reach their classroom, which would most likely be equipped with a recycling bin. It just comes down to taking the extra step.

But if you are still feeling too lazy to take those extra 30 seconds or so to recycle, use the motivation of money to steer you. When I first came to Boston and experienced the wonder of Shaw’s (something my home state of New Jersey sadly lacks), I was pretty amazed to see those big bins in the front of the store where you receive a five cent refund on each bottle or can you recycle.

Not to sound like a public service announcement, but Al Gore showed me that our planet is in trouble.

Even though there are many things we can’t change, the simple act of recycling can make a huge difference to our planet’s health. So, next time you’re about to carelessly toss a soda bottle in the trash, take a moment and think about Earth’s fleeting stamina. You’ll be glad you did.

– Julia Gall can be reached at [email protected]

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