For my Civil Issues blog, I will be writing under the broad category of the environment, specifically exploring a topic called The Environmental Movement or Green Movement.
The Environmental Movement, which includes “conservation and green politics“, is a “diverse scientific, social, and political movement for addressing environmental issues“. While this movement has taken root in many countries and has impacted the world, I am most interested to discover when “being green” started trending in the United States. Most accredit the beginning of the movement in the U.S. to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and John Muir’s preservationist mindset to create the National Parks in the nineteenth century (see my Passion Blog for a more modern take on the Parks).
However, today, I want to look at a more modern and familiar concept of the Environmental Movement: recycling. The opportunity to recycle is everywhere on campus, in dining halls and academic buildings alike, and is marked by many different bins with signs that indicate which objects go in which bin. Recycling should be an easy feat, right? Well, not always. This week, a close friend of mine explained her reasoning behind why she does NOT recycle. I see her points, but as the type of person who will always call someone out if I see them throw away a plastic water bottle, her argument was hard for me to digest.
Basically, my friend’s argument is that there’s just no point to it. Very little of what we attempt to recycle at Penn State actually makes it to a recycling station because one little piece of plastic in the Styrofoam bin, or one glass bottle in the plastic bin contaminates the whole entire bag of recyclables, sending it all straight to the landfill. She thinks our efforts are futile, and thus refuses to participate at all.
How cynical is that!? What about the handful of bags that do make it through a day without being mixed up or contaminated? Those are the few that will be properly recycled. I proposed this thought to my friend, and she had nothing to say. She still claims recycling is pointless.
I wholeheartedly disagree. The only thing that we all have to be careful about is sorting our trash wisely; if you’re not sure where an object should go, ask a passerby, or if you must…throw it in the trash (can’t believe I just said that). While that one item may not get recycled, at least you saved a whole bag from being contaminated and positively supported the recycling movement.