It’s time for Mason to step up its recycling game

This recycling container is one of two in the cafeteria. They are both in the back, next to the microwaves. (Photo by Caroline Perez)

This recycling container is one of two in the cafeteria. They are both in the back, next to the microwaves. (Photo by Caroline Perez)

As students, we all have a lot on our minds: next class’s test, the load of homework due tomorrow, or a big game coming up. It’s reasonable that sometimes we just want to do things the easy way. But I don’t think it’s too much to ask not to blatantly throw a plastic water bottle into the trash, when it is just as easy to put in a recycling bin nearby. This is an issue that has bothered me for a long time, and it has gone on for far too long.

Every time I sit in the cafeteria, I cringe when I see someone walk right by the recycling bin to throw away their bottle in the trash. Granted, the school could do a better job of labeling and having more of the recycling bins, but they are there, located in the back, next to the microwaves. At most, no matter where you are sitting, you are just a few feet away from one.

It’s the same in the classroom. There are too many instances where I see a bottle in the trash when there is a recycling bin right next to it. It takes an equal amount of effort to just put it in the right container.

Why is it worth the effort?

When waste is thrown in the trash, it goes to a landfill to decompose. While some materials don’t take as long to decompose, plastic takes 450 years, which is among the longest of materials.

Since plastic wasn’t invented until 1907, every single plastic product in landfills has yet to decompose. In addition, new plastic is constantly being made in factories. So while bottles are thrown away and put into landfills, more plastic continues to be made, thus creating an enormous build up of plastic. If a bottle is recycled, the plastic is kept out of landfills and used again, helping to maintain the total levels of plastic.

With that being said, the United States alone throws away 2.5 million plastic bottles per hour — and that’s just in the US. That many plastic bottles are put into landfills every hour, in which they will sit for the next 450 years.

Not only does it create a build up, but the materials and energy in those bottles are essentially gone forever. Once they are in landfills, there is no way to retrieve the bottles. The components can not be used again, and more must be created.

So next time you have a plastic bottle to throw away, I urge you to take the extra 10 steps to recycle it. Although it may not seem very influential to just recycle one bottle, every little bit truly helps.

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