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Why Recycle?

Jessica Palombo, CONNECT Commentator tells us why she recycles.

I am not a tree-hugging hippy. I don’t drive a hybrid car, and the imported fish and vegetables I buy travel thousands of miles over land and sea to reach my plate.

But, there is one daily act I do whenever possible… because my generation grew up just knowing it was the right thing to do. So why do I see so many of my peers not doing it?
To me, recycling doesn’t even seem like a choice. It’s like brushing my teeth or wearing clothes. It’s what I was taught to do, and it just makes sense.

Think through a day in your life. Try adding up each time you throw something in the trash. Dental floss. Gum wrapper. Sandwich paper. Soda cup. Spoiled yogurt. According to the Public Broadcasting Company, all of these little things add up to an average of 4.4 pounds of garbage per person per day. Now multiply that by 7 billion people who live on earth, and you get almost 31 Billion pounds of trash generated every day on earth.

So with all that waste building up every day, people like to say, “I’m just one person. My soda bottles won’t change the future of the planet.” They’re right. But if everyone recycled even half the time, the EPA tells us that that we could vastly reduce the pollution from manufacturing, save energy, decrease greenhouse gases, conserve natural resources and help sustain the environment for our kids and grandkids. Plus, recycling creates jobs for Americans and helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil sources.
Syracuse is actually a really great place for recycling. The university and the county programs are out there. In your face.
I went to a neighborhood festival, and the Onondaga County recycling people, OCCRA, were there handing out blue bins and helpful lists to tell you what gets recycled and what doesn’t.
Walking around Syracuse University’s campus, I see recycle bins next to virtually every trash can. The people in charge make it easy to recycle.

That’s why it bothers me so much when the people around me don’t do it.

For example, in the Newhouse School, we have triple-purpose receptacles with three slots in the top: One for trash, one for paper, and one for other recyclables. This is exactly the setup I imagined might be possible at my old college, where the nearest recycle bin was usually on a different floor of the building.

But, even with the three options so clearly labeled, people still put their water bottles in the trash hole. Sometimes I think people don’t recycle when it’s not super convenient for them. But does it get any more convenient than being attached to the trash can? It’s almost like they are going out of their way to not recycle.
So even if you don’t believe in global climate change, or you think all recycling trucks secretly just go to straight to the city dump, there’s one big incentive for us poor college students…and everyone else… to recycle.
That’s why I bring my recyclables to the grocery store, get that deposit, and turn that trash into ice cream.

Why I Recycle from Jessica Palombo on Vimeo.

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