By Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter
“Reduce, reuse, recycle!”
I grew up hearing this phrase from our teachers, relatives and other adults, as well as on TV and in magazines. When I first began learning about global warming at the age of eight, I was deeply saddened by all of the damage that we as humans were personally causing to our home of Earth. I had to create a science presentation that year in school, and without hesitation, I chose to talk about the effects of global warming on polar bears in the Arctic.
I became so enthralled with this topic that I had no choice but to change the way I was living and make some sort of difference. Even though I was only an eight-year-old, I couldn’t just sit idly by and watch a beautiful species go extinct when I knew there was progress to be made.
As a result, I had everyone in my family get in on my quest to make a difference by, you guessed it, recycling. We bought a new trash can and labeled it our recycling bin, and the rest is history. We had to do some research to see what we could and could not recycle, as well as where to put it when we needed to throw it out. It was a lot of effort at the time since there wasn’t a truck that would come and pick it up on a weekly basis, but we were all determined to do better for our planet.
We began by recycling the obvious things, such as plastic water bottles, soda cans, food cans and milk jugs. It felt so good to know that these products would somehow get used again instead of just getting thrown into the garbage to sit around for decades to decompose. I was always looking for more information about conservation to make sure I was doing the most that I possibly could to help the planet stay in tact for years to come. Instead of throwing unwanted papers in the trash can, I would proudly put it in the recycling bin, knowing that maybe one less tree would have to be cut down in the future.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the world got as excited about global temperatures and species extinction as I did in 2005, so I still find people who don’t implement this concept of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” into their everyday lives. There are different rules and regulations for each region throughout the U.S. as well as specific states laws on how and what to recycle. In some places, if you don’t recycle, you will get a fine; in other places, it goes unnoticed. By not having consistent laws throughout the country, and allowing each state to do their own thing, we can’t truly make progress in our efforts to reduce plastic and other recyclable waste.
This isn’t a political issue; it’s a matter of keeping our planet clean and safe for future generations. Some may say, “Well what could I possibly do? It’s not going to make a difference whether or not I recycle my water bottle.” But it will. You can recycle almost anything: paper, plastic, glass, metal, cardboard, textiles and even electronics. We are in an age when it is unacceptable to be ignorant about conservation; if we don’t make a change now, our planet is going to get overrun by piles of plastic because it takes decades, even centuries some scientists say, to fully decompose. This is especially true for countries living in poverty that don’t have the technology to deal with waste efficiently.
As Earth Day approaches on April 22nd, I urge everyone to consider and become aware of their efforts when it comes to “reduce, reuse, and recycle.”
Need some tips and tricks? Here are some of the things that I do to reduce my use of plastic!
- Say no more to plastic bags. Get a reusable bag and take it with you when you go grocery shopping and shopping in general. HEB typically sells them for $2.
- Invest in a reusable water bottle.
- Skip the plastic straw. They end up causing more harm to our ocean friends than they do making your Starbucks drinks taste good.
- If you do have plastic bags, reuse them as trash bags. Save money!
- Buy produce that doesn’t come packaged. Buy some reusable produce bags. I got a variety pack of 9 from Amazon for $12.
Look up the laws and regulations in your state and area, and see how you can do your part to save the planet.