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Why Do We Need More Than Recycling?

"I recycle.” That's what we hear from hundreds of people when the topic is environmental issues. Recycle is great however I realized that many people don’t know anything about the recycling process. There is this false belief that when we recycle a product it will magically convert into another and doesn’t end up in the landfills or oceans. Well, I wish… More recycling doesn’t mean fewer emissions.

First of all, we need to be aware that recycling is not easy. There are seven types of plastics so not every plastic items are the same level recyclable which makes it difficult to be separated and recycled efficiently. It is a big industry which uses enormous amounts of energy and resources. Every step of the process costs a lot of money. Also, it only works if there is a buyer for the material. Yes, there are some companies with green practices but definitely not enough.

Your plastic bottle along with other recyclable products put into huge bales and carried across the ocean. It is carried to poorer countries. Years ago, China was the main country that bough most of these materials, however, due to extreme pollution rates of land and water caused by burning massive amounts of waste on open fires, they had to limit the amount of trash they receive. Since there is no single country that can replace China, materials sent to many developing countries. They are dumped into their landfills and our oceans.

Plastic breaks down within almost a year in the ocean BUT it doesn’t decompose. It tuns into microplastics. These microplastics release toxic chemicals and along with plastic garbage effect marine life negatively. The same toxins poison the landfills as well. The waste we thought would be recycled, contaminate our water, cause and transmit diseases, harm habitats and animals in it, damage the financial welfare of farmers and fishers. 

So What Should We Do?

In an ideal world, governments should step up and create proper legislation and policy measures for waste prevention, sustainability and switch from linear economy to circular economy in order to preserve the environment However, we are not fully there yet. So, it is up to us, to educate ourselves and change our behaviors. We need to control our consumings and try to embrace zero waste lifestyles in order to reduce pollution. Our main goal should be not creating the waste in the first place.

In short;




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