Why we need to do recycling now more than ever

Published August 6, 2020, 8:18 AM

by Johannes Chua

The pandemic has forced a lot of people to stay at home. Thus, waste incurred at restaurants, malls, parks, etc. are reduced because of the absence of man’s social activities. On the flip side of the coin, however, activities are now centered at home. And with that, the rise of waste also at one’s home.

Deliveries at home are packed in boxes, plastics, or paper. Food takeout are wrapped in plastic, paper, or in trays made of foil, or worse, Styrofoam. All these add to the waste, and Mother Earth doesn’t need you to add more burden to its already burdened state.

Now, the value of recycling comes to fore. Never in the history of the modern era has happened when majority of the world’s population is cocooned at home. So, there’s no better time to practice recycling than now, not tomorrow, not next month, and not especially when the pandemic is over. Now is the time.

What is the rationale behind recycling?

In her book An A-Z Guide for a Green Pinoy, environment advocate Annie P. Guerrero, shares her insight on recycling, and says that is was born out of the “struggle for survival.”

“We always say that necessity is the mother of invention. In times of war and political upheaval, the struggle for survival has triggered an extraordinary flow of creativity around the world,” she says, noting that some of the best recycling ideas are the products of the climate of thrift and self-reliance that flourished during hard times.

The pandemic, which has created a climate of thrift and self-reliance, is the ideal time for families to start recycling at home

She laments, however, that the emergence of the modern “throw-away society,” pushed aside the importance of recycling.

But there is hope, especially now that people realize that a pandemic could push them into a survival mode. It doesn’t have to be bleak, according to Guerrero, as recycling should be a light and fun experience.

“The diverse traditions of recycling and reusing are being revived by artists, designers, and eco-warriors alike. From the wisdom of bygone days to innovative ideas from contemporary artists, and designers around the world, recycling ideas are boundless if only we let our creative juices flow,” she says.  

She notes that recycling in our country is still evolving.

“We have a long way to go, but nonetheless recycling is moving from its supporting role in waste disposal to a preferred method of getting the maximum return from a shrinking supply of limited resources.”

One of the best ways to do recycling, which is so apt at these challenging times, is to do home composting.

One of the best ways to do recycling is to do home composting

“This is by all means encouraged – it’s just about the easiest recycling that we can all do – and this greatly reduces our garbage. Nearly two-thirds of our garbage consists of materials that could be successfully composted.”

Sustainable packaging also is a buzzword in the packaging industry and among companies that heavily use various types of packaging materials in their day-to-day operations. It involves, among others, the use of packaging that is compostable or recyclable, with recycled contents, made with renewable materials, or manufactured without using toxic chemicals.

“These types of packaging materials are now being used by a growing number of companies as part of their efforts to limit the environmental impacts of their products,” says Guerrero. “So it’s a good development if sustainable packaging is used now in deliveries, takeouts, and by logistic companies.”

In essence, this is the tenet of the recycling industry:

  1. Reduce air, water, and land pollution, especially in the dumpsites
  2. Reduce the demand for water used in processing paper, plastics, glass, and steel by 50 percent
  3. Save energy like fuel oil at the factories because recycled wastes melt at lower temperature
  4. Save space in the dumpsites
  5. Conserve raw materials
  6. Save further destruction of forests, oceans (for oil), mountains (for minerals), and quarries (for silica)
  7. Keep the surroundings clean and tidy
  8. Give jobs to people
  9. Save money that would otherwise go to importation of raw materials
  10. Earn money for the industry