Americans and Recycling

This infographic by Good (click through for the full infographic) shows how Americans see recycling, and it is actually very insightful yet dissapointing at the same time. The survey shows that the percentage of college grads, adults over 55, Northeast states residents, and Western residents who recycle are all in the upper 50 percent range, which is good! I am really glad to see that a good amount of people in the United States attempt to recycle. However, sometimes their good intentions are from the wrong reasons.

People understand the benefits of recycling, which is a good start to furthering the green movement and raising awareness. People believe that recycling helps reduce landfills, saves trees, conserves energy, creates jobs, and makes money. Yes, recycling reduces landfills because we are reducing waste and yes it creates jobs. It also saves trees in the long run because the more cardboard and paper that is made in to reusable items, the less trees need to be cut down. But it is debatable to say that it conserves energy. You have to use energy to actually recycle products, and in the case of the Prius (sources say that it takes more energy to produce a Prius than a Hummer)come products use more energy to make than they save in the long run.

A huge problem is that people don’t know what to recycle. This isn’t exactly an excuse, since most websites for townships now-a-days have information about recycling. The infographic explains that people don’t know that crayons, trophies, cat litter, greeting cards, egg cartons, and phone books are recyclable. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know that crayons, trophies, and cat litter could be recycled, but greeting cards and phone books are made out of recyclable paper and egg cartons are made out of that weird stuff that can be recycled! Some people also don’t know that you have to rinse out your recycling, and boxes like pizza boxes and juice cartons can’t be recycled because they’re covered in wax. Also, corrugated cardboard has to be taken to a special box, and is not to be put in the regular recycling. Another disheartening thing about recycling is that most people just throw away the item if they don’t know if it can be recycled instead of looking it up.. I mean really people.. how many Americans have smart phones in their pocket to look up this stuff!? If worst comes to worst, you can even ask Siri!

Last but not least are the reasons why people don’t recycle. These reaons shouldn’t even be valid excuses any more due to the long-standing green movements across the world. People in this infographic explain that a recycling plant isn’t easily accessible or it costs too much, which I can understand, but if you are willing to help save the planet, recycling is one of the easiest and cheapest things for American consumers to do. People also say that they are too forgetful, it is too time consuming, and that they’re not sure what is recyclable or isn’t.

All of these reasons are merely excuses, and if American citizens were committed to saving the environment, then they would make a stronger effort to spend the little extra money for garbage pick-up or wash out their jars after use or find a recycling plant in their area and make a trip once in a while. We need more people on the environmental conservation band-wagon, and recycling is the easiest way to get started! Reduce, reuse, recycle!

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