Plastic bottles can be found almost anywhere on Earth. They are cheap to produce, incredibly lightweight, and almost indestructible. And that is the problem.
They’re a huge trash problem, especially since only 1 out of every 5 bottles are actually recycled. To the majority of Americans once the problem is out of sight, it’s also out of mind.
Why recycle? Here are three ideas:
- Save the future without having to time-travel: Plastic bottles take up to 1,000 years to decompose. To put this in perspective, about 1000 years ago the first Europeans had just landed in North America, Vikings still fought on the oceans, and the Classic Mayan civilization had just collapsed. Imagine if they had plastic bottles back then: we would still have to live with the waste today. That doesn’t sound so pleasant now, does it?
- What’s that big buzzword nowadays? Jobs. Recycling creates jobs. Recycling a ton of waste will pay $101 more in salaries and wages, produce $275 more in goods and services, and generate $135 more in sales than disposing of it in a landfill. If Congress wants to create jobs, maybe it should stop being so trashy.
- Control how your taxes are spent. We’re sorry we can’t just magically lower your taxes for you. However, you do have control over how well the money is spent depending on your recycling habits. According to the EPA, the energy conserved by recycling one plastic bottle can light a 60-watt light bulb for six hours or power a computer for 25 minutes. That’s also money saved by your state’s government on energy bills, which can then be spent elsewhere: hopefully somewhere more productive… like catching up to China in the clean tech race.
Max Chen is a senior majoring in Business at The George Washington University. Musadiq Bidar and Nimet Kirac are seniors majoring in Journalism at The George Washington University.