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Bryan Howe UALR English October 24, 2013 Is recycling worth it?

Do humans lead the path to their own destruction? It very well might seem that way when it comes to the issue of the materials we use and how much of that is gone to waste. The issue of whether or not to recycle products such as plastic and paper or any other material that can be reused is a complicated one do to the fact that there are convincing arguments on either side. Many on the anti-recycling side are convinced that recycling costs more than it does to just simply throw that waste away. On top of that, they believe that it may even be worse for the environment and that the only reason people do it in the first place is because it makes them feel good. Those on the other side of the argument are much more passionate that recycling is not only good for the economy but will help preserve the planet on which we live. The acts of recycling and composting ones waste are both environmentally beneficial ways to get rid of waste. A person can use either of these methods to keep materials out of landfills and minimize a persons ecological footprint on the earth. While it is obvious that the best way to reduce waste is reusing items or reducing consumption, recycling and composting great alternatives to help deal with waste management techniques when we live in a society that is based on consumption.

Many people believe that we need to recycle because we are running out of landfill space. I believe that this is not true. The planet Earth has practically as much space to dump waste as we want. Ignoring the fact that the earth is big enough to dump as much waste as we want, and focusing on landfills alone, then yes we are running out of space. The National Solid Wastes Management Association has determined that the United States has roughly 20 years of storage left. The Northeast region of the United States and Alaska are great examples of places that are even closer to running out of space. Places like: North Carolina, Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. These places are overflowing so much that they are encouraging recycling to be able to keep their landfill space and stay in business. One way they are doing this is by increasing their tipping fee. A tipping fee is a cost on a given amount of garbage brought into a waste management facility. The average tipping fee in the United States is roughly 34 dollars a ton. In the Northeast and Alaska however, a tipping fee is over 70 dollars a ton. (popularmechanics) When it comes to the great recycling debate I still believe that recycling is far more beneficial to the environment, the economy, and the human race all together. Recycling has many benefits that help the environment and the economy. It saves energy, conserves natural resources, limits pollution and help build many private and government sectors of the economy. The US Environmental Protection agency has many statistics on the subject that may help people realize what happens to their materials and the energy that is saved from doing these things. In the year 2003, 54 billion aluminum cans were recycled and the energy that was saved surpassed the energy equivalent of 15 million barrels of crude oil. This is roughly the amount of gas the

US uses in just one day. That energy that was saved can be also be looked at like this: for every 3 hours of TV is equal to 1 aluminum can. So the energy that was saved from recycling cans was enough to power 162 billion hours of TV. Not only does recycling do its part in saving the energy that we need each and every day, but it is also important to the conservation of natural resources. According to the EPA, in the year 2003 Americans threw away 83 million tons of paper material. By recycling more than half that, we saved over 705 million trees and 290 billion gallons of fresh water. These facts alone should make people think twice about what we are doing to the world in which we live in. I believe that these facts are proof that recycling is more efficient that composting. Before I make my final statement, I think it is important to see the other side of the argument. (www.affluentmagazine) Ron Gonen who is the deputy commissioner of sanitation in the state of New York thinks otherwise when it comes to the topic of recycling. He says about 2/3 of New Yorks waste stream is actually recyclable and out of the 3 million tons that they generate every year, Over 2 million of those tons could be moved from landfill into the recycle industry. In a world where if we only recycle about half a million tons, we could be saving tens of millions of dollars in disposable fees. He says that every ton that they take to a landfill, they pay about 86 dollars a ton. When it comes to paper, they actually get paid to recycle. "It's very important for New Yorkers to understand that recycling is not just good for the environment, but it's equally good for their pocket books," says the deputy commissioner of recycling and sustainability. (cbsnews) There are still many people that believe that recycling is actually bad for the environment in some ways. Contamination is one of the biggest problems in the

recycling world if there are toxins on a piece of material that has been recycled. For example, the paint on a spray can, then most of the time that material will make it through the recycling plant and get combined with a brand new product like a Coke can. The scariest thing about this is that we dont know when an item has been contaminated until something bad happens and its too late. The citizens in the city of Taiwan are experiencing gamma radiation poisoning that has been going on for the past 12 years due to building being made form recycled steel. On top of this, there is also the concern for air pollution. The actual process of recycling already causes a lot of pollution in itself. Containing hundreds of air born toxins each, garbage and recycling trucks add to the amount of air pollutants. The sad fact is that recycling trucks admit just as much fossil fuels into the air as the ones that pick up trash. No matter what the purpose, they both cause harm. (ncbi) Whatever side a person chooses whether it is recycling or composting, I feel like it can be beneficial in some sort of way. I do believe however that recycling is the best choice. There is no doubt that based of the facts and data that recycling is better for the environment and the economy. Even if it does cost a bit extra, isnt our planet worth the extra money? I certainly believe so. Whenever you go out to take that paper or plastic bottles to the trash, try to stop and think about how those materials effect the world you live in and the people around you.

Works Cited

Brennan, Jason. "Reasons Why You Should Recycle ." Affluent Magazine . N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://www.affluentmagazine.com/articles/article/69>.

Chen, W.L. "Effects of Cobalt-60 Exposure on Health of Taiwan Residents Suggest New Approach Needed in Radiation Protection." ncbi. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2477708/>.

Hutchinson, Alex. "Recycling Myths: PM Debunks 5 Half Truths about Recycling." Popular mechanics . N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/recycling/4290631>.

"Is recycling worth it?." cbsnews. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://m.cbsnews.com/fullstory.rbml?catid=57580721&feed_id=1&videofeed=37>.

Whittle, Amy. " Composting vs. Recycling." homeguides . N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <http://homeguides.sfgate.com/composting-vs-recycling-79311.html>.