Kevin McInerney- Write and Respond #2

Kevin McInerney

December 3, 2017

Professor DeForest

Write and Respond #2

Recycling

The amount of material and information I was unfamiliar with that we covered in Math 33 throughout the course of the semester far exceeded my expectations. Many of the lectures and guest speakers were eye-opening to me in the sense that they introduced many important concepts that I thought I knew more about than I actually did, and certainly concepts that I should pay more attention to in the future. The recycling unit was one which probably stood out to me the most, largely because it’s such an important and common aspect of everyone’s day to day lives and plays an enormous role within societies around the world. This unit also made me realize how little I actually know about recycling, which is something that I’ve actively participated in without consciously thinking about the effects and implications that it has both economically and environmentally. I learned several things in each of the sources that were provided pertaining to recycling, and many of the statistics and lessons will certainly be in the back of my mind as recycling continues to play a role in my life. I was impressed to learn that recycling efforts have increased dramatically over the past several decades and have become far more efficient as well, with the recycle rate in the United States being roughly 32%, up from 9% in 1980 (http://www.economist.com/node/9249262). European countries have also making incredible advances, with recycling rates soaring in many places across the continent. It’s also important to know some of the positive benefits from efficiently recycling, including but not limited to conserving natural resources and reducing the amount of waste that is placed into landfills, which have been proven to yield detrimental greenhouse gases. However, despite many of these positive points being made about recycling in The Economist, I found “The Reign of Recycling” by John Tierney to be incredibly intriguing as it challenged many of my previous understandings of many aspects of recycling. The article touched on several environmental aspects of recycling, however, I found his points regarding economic aspects to be more intriguing. Tierney states that although the practice of recycling has reached more people than ever before, there hasn’t been much positive change regarding its environmental and economic impacts. As a matter of fact, he states that because “prices for recyclable materials have plummeted because of lower prices and reduced demand for them overseas” (Tierney, NY Times). He goes on to contradict a point made in the article published in The Economist, saying that the national rate of recycling has stagnated in recent years, which comes as a cause for concern throughout the recycling industry. Another interesting point that Tierney brings attention to is the fact that as recycling continues to move past mostly paper and metals and into glass, food scraps, and assorted plastics, “the costs rise sharply while the environmental benefits decline and sometimes vanish” (Tierney, NY Times). Tierney concludes his insightful article by proposing several solutions to the problems facing recycling, specifically pertaining to what a socially conscious person should consider. He mentions the possibility of proposing a tax or sorts pertaining to the carbon content of garbage, bringing light to thorough research conducted by Dr. Kinnaman, an economist at Bucknell University. Tierney theorizes that there are several alternatives and initiatives that make more sense economically and environmentally than recycling practices that are currently embraced but the fact that recycling appeals to many voters and makes people feel good about themselves is one of the driving factors behind continuing flawed recycling efforts. I believe that there are important and valid statistics and arguments presented in both the article in The Economist and John Tierney’s “The Reign of Recycling.” I also believe that there is an important lesson to be learned from the contrasting opinions of both the authors; that it’s important to consult multiple articles and sources in order to obtain several points of views and decide your stance based on the most strongly supported facts and opinions. Not only did I learn a lot from several different lessons throughout the course of Math 33 this semester, but I also improved my analytical and comparative skills in seeking the best information, which is something that I will carry with me through the remainder of my studies and into my future beyond my undergraduate education.

http://www.economist.com/node/9249262

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/opinion/sunday/the-reign-of-recycling.html

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9 Responses to Kevin McInerney- Write and Respond #2

  1. Haley Brown says:

    Hi Kevin,
    I enjoyed reading your Write and Respond #2. I agree with you that this class has improved my analytical and comparative skills in seeking the best information that will take me farther in my studies. I also agree with you that the speakers in this class were very well spoken and easy to listen to, I enjoyed being able to listen to a speaker during class instead of just a regular lecture.

  2. Rachel Stone says:

    I felt the same way about the course. I didn’t realize there was so much I did not know about recycling. It’s not just “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”. It was eye opening to see the actual effects of our efforts. I’m glad you included both a positive side to the recycling process as well as the contradicting side that it might not be worth it in today’s society. This is a question that still “haunts” me and I hope can come to a conclusion soon for everyone so sustainability can become more realistic.

  3. Katri Evangeline Randall says:

    When we started learning about recycling in this class, I was also shocked by some of the things we learned. I always had thought recycling was a good thing no matter what and did not think deeper about the costs and how much or little it benefits the environment. The Reign of Recycling” by John Tierney brought up a lot of points that I had never considered as well. This part of the course was very interesting to me.
    -Katri

  4. Molly Mordan says:

    The things we learned about recycling this semester really surprised me as well. Just as with many other environmental issues, things reveal themselves to be much more complicated than most people initially think. Since most people of our generation are taught to recycle, we assume that it really makes a difference and I assumed that all types of recycling are equally important. After more readings and lessons throughout the semester, I learned that there are far more components that go into recycling. I never considered the energy required to clean the recycled materials, transport them, or make them into new products. It was interesting to learn that some recycling efforts are more beneficial and valuable than others.

  5. Elizabeth D'alonzo says:

    I also chose this topic as well. I think recycling was the single thing I learned most about in this class over the course of the semester. I truly had no knowledge on the topic before and after learning about it I changed the way I live to better the community. I really try to recycle correctly whenever I can. there are so many details regarding recycling and there are so many steps that take place that I had no clue about. I truly believe that if people are better educated in this field then we will be able to make a change in our everyday lives. I think this course should be supplemented in early schooling for all kids so they have a better understand about the topic. it is also interesting to see the costs of recycling and how much it really effects the environment. there are certainly pros and cons of recycling and you bring up some good facts about both, I like your quotes and statistics regarding the subjects and I think this really makes your paper legit. I think you did a very nice job and I certainly agree with your findings. I also improved my analytical and comparative skills in seeking the best information which I can use and carry on in my life. overall I really liked this paper and I agree with your statements. nice work!

  6. Riley Nicole Schear says:

    Recycling is a very important thing in the world today. I believe people don’t realize how much recycling truly helps or doesn’t help the environment. There are so many ways to recycle that make it easy for everyone. You talk about many important facts about recycling. I also didn’t realize the other factors about recycling. For example money costs. I believe you did a very good job in giving facts about both sides (good and bad) if recycling.

  7. zml5135 says:

    I seemed to agree with everything in your post. First, I also was shocked by how much of the material I did not know that was discussed in class. At some points I was almost ashamed at how little I knew about this increasing issues. Therefore, it was refreshing to see that possible solutions were also discussed in the course. Recycling was obviously the most notable, but maybe not the most efficient. I was glad that you covered this in your W&R2 because it was personally one of the most shocking moments of the class. I think you did a great job highlighting both sides of the argument for recycling and providing which ways were the most effective. I will definitely be keeping your advice in mind when I decide to recycle in the future.

  8. kjh5621 says:

    Hey Kevin, I thought it was really interesting how you pointed out the recycling rates, because the US rate seems so high now but compared to a lot of countries overseas its next to nothing! For example, Austria is at 63% and Germany at 62%, and we’re pretty low on the list. Even Taiwan is up at 60% so it almost looks embarrassing for the US. It makes me think of the possible policy implications for an improved recycling system here, because we could definitely have a huge impact in global garbage issues considering we produce so much trash. The link for the global recycling rates is below, but it says a lot about what recycling can do and where we hope to go in the future! https://www.statista.com/statistics/516456/rate-of-recycling-worldwide-by-key-country/

  9. TINE LIU says:

    I agree with on “The Reign of Recycling” by John Tierney. It was mind-blowing to me when Tierney was talking about how recycling does absolutely nothing for our environment. It is wasting money and extremely inefficient. I was like, how it is this even possible. I still think recycling is the way to save our environment. It might be costly and inefficient at the moment, but I’m sure we can figure out something better. Good technologies don’t just pop out of nowhere. The development process takes time and effort. And I believe our scientists are working on that right now. Plus, lots of our garbage are being dumped to third world countries, and that is irresponsible.

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