Why Should We Recycle:Waste and our Environment
Food for thought
As living organisms we cannot avoid the waste we create. Even if it were possible to create zero waste during our lifetimes, we would still leave behind our biological form as waste.
We have historically relied on the same methods to deal with our waste as we use to deal with those of us who die, namely burial (landfill) or cremation (incineration). In days gone by, when human society was in its infancy, our waste was not at a volume that required much thought as to its disposal. Now we are at an all time population high, and this is causing serious issues in the way we manage and affect our immediate and global environments with regards to waste.
We are a society that needs 'fuel' for survival, whether it is fuel as we all know it in the form of oil, coal and gas, or as fuel for the production industries that clothe and feed us. Any process that begins with a raw material will end with a product that will eventually become waste. The secret is to find a way of connecting all the processes that our society requires and linking them in such a way that any product can then be a raw material at a later stage in its life. One person's waste is another person's gain. This is where recycling becomes a huge part of the changes we need to make as a society to minimise our future impacts on our Environment.
It might help to think of waste in this way:
A small problem can be described as 'a drop in the ocean'. The waste we produce as a Global Society is already 'the ocean'.
Burying it and burning it will not make it disappear. You cannot create and destroy matter. It merely changes it from one form into another that ultimately still needs to be dealt with.
So, what are our options?
- Think about what we are using in the first place to try and minimise our waste
- Any waste we do create - can it be repaired, re-used or recycled?
- If it can't are there any other options?
- Landfill/incineration as a last resort
The latest ideas for sustainable waste management are summarised in the waste management hierarchy below