The current increasing use of the earth’s natural resources put a raising pressure on our planet’s ecosystem. This ecosystem which supplies vital resources is one of the key factors that human life depends on, along with waste absorption. What happens if human life using all of the available natural resources, what if the waste that man produces is no longer has a way to be disposed of. Such questions arise in the modern world today and the hope for these questions to be answered relies on the responsibility of the current technological progress. The process of recycling can improve the natural ecological circle as it decreases the quantity of waste material that the ecosystem has to absorb and at the same time reduces the consumption of the natural resources acting as a substitute or it is a myth that covers another problem of the society. The recycling process and the factors behind its rejection and support that enlighten the facts of how we are causing harm to the planet.
Theory of the carrying capacity
The recycling process can be directly related to a theoretical concept of the carrying capacity, in such a way it could be mentioned that the first term could be presented as a practical solution of the apparent impact of the misbalance of the second.
The carrying capacity theory assumes that for a particular part of the land there is a limited number of people that can use the natural resources of this part without violating the balance between their consumption of the resources and the waste they produce keeping the natural, cultural, and social systems stable.
Another term that can be similarly identified with the carrying capacity is urban sustainability. Urban sustainability as a term can be identified as «intergenerational equity, intragenerational equity (including social equity, geographical equity, and equity in governance), protection of the natural environment (and living within its carrying capacity), minimal use of nonrenewable resources, economic vitality and diversity, community self-reliance, individual well-being, and satisfaction of basic human needs. »(Maclaren).
For this term to be more generally understood it could be interpreted as keeping the balance and as a constant state of this balance and its various aspects. One of these aspects is the environmental aspect which is why the recycling process is connected to this term. A recycle can be identified as the process of collecting the disposable material and reusing them again as an attempt to decrease the impact of these wasted materials on the environment.
Aspects of recycling
In what way recycling can be beneficial to our environment? Generally speaking, recycling helps to reduce or eliminate the pollution typically associated with the production and disposal of consumer products. In detail observations many advantages in several aspects are present and what most important in the ecological sector, listing some of them:
- Recycling saves natural resources like water, and ores from local and imported sources.
- Recycling conserves energy.
- Recycling helps to decrease pollution resulted in manufacturing from unused resources;
- Recycling reduces the need to use landfilling and incineration, and helps to prevent pollution resulting from these technologies;
- Recycling helps protect and expand manufacturing jobs in America.
- Recycling encourages a feeling of involvement and responsibility in the community.
Decrease environmental duties in addition to the cost of managing, collecting, and delivering the waste to landfills and incinerators.
In addition one of the main benefits of recycling waste is that the need for landfills and incinerators. Landfills usually are parts of the land which were purposely used as a burying place for garbage. The view of landfills can be a disturbing image in the first place, and in addition, this land could be used for another purpose.
This land could be used for building a school, a church, or a stadium, used for gathering the garbage. Landfills are increasing every day, when those are full, we will need more landfills. This is an assumption that in the end, it will get worse. If the world today will get filled with waste on this basis, it might be found someday that we ran out of space and the only solution as it seems is to start recycling.
By taking these advantages of the recycling programs and apply them to an overloaded city like Los Angeles. It can be seen that the city’s carrying capacity Is limited and the overpopulation and the recycling program already applied to affect the carrying capacity of the city. Los Angeles as a city, which was facing a garbage crisis before applying the program has been creative in its commercial recycling initiatives.
How the program is beneficial in the first place. The recycling movement in cities and counties across the US canceled no less than 300 planned incinerators that would have used up billions of dollars in local capital and destroyed the materials that have made recycling a leading economic development engine.
The recycling movement
The recycling movement helped avoid millions of tons of toxic gas and solid emissions. Recycling has begun to change the nature of our industrial system. In California, the recycling industry is $1.8 billion sectors. Los Angeles is a city that includes processing, manufacturing, and distribution of products within its local economy and also increased the value of recycling in its economy. The developed effective strategies which enabled redevelopment of brownfields throughout Los Angeles and particularly in disadvantaged communities incorporated these strategies into the city’s normal redevelopment process, while the City is leveraging its involvement in brownfield redevelopment to encourage green building practices. The careful deconstruction of buildings which increased the reuse and recycling of the materials helped to build a waste-free building strategy.
Some many projects and programs include recycling processes as waste disposal activities, many of them are state-supported and as a result, faces a group of critics who reject these programs. For detailed observation of the criticism, it should be mentioned that these arguments although totally in contrast to each other they should at least be mentioned for equity.
The first argument is the price of recycling is that many critics point to the recycling process as a nonprofitable sector that costs more to the government than the disposal of the waste.
An answer to that argument would be that both methods, disposal, and recycling do cost money, one may be cheaper than the other but it is not the money issue that stands between choosing one of the methods. The environment also counts for that matter and as a result, choosing a less expensive bury in the landfill procedure or saving thousands of trees is not an option for caring for a naturalized American citizen.
Another point of view that may seem more logical is the point that is presented by a group that considers the environmental factor in the disposal-recycling equation as a priority.
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The main idea of this point of view is that the process of recycling itself produces more harm to the environment than the disposal of the waste in landfills, burning them in the incinerators and even producing them from the scratch. The main arguments that stand in opposition to recycling are to provide a clearer picture of the myths created by recycling activists.
The argument for the possibility to be overwhelmed with garbage in the future is destructed by the fact that a piece of land about ten miles can bury the garbage of the whole country for centuries. The argument of recycling to save trees and forests is parried by the fact that the annual tree growth of trees in the world is twenty times larger than the world’s consumption of papers and trees.
They add to the table facts that the recycle hurting the environment in examples such as the number of trucks for collecting garbage is increased because different trucks needed to collect different types of garbage, the recyclable and non-recyclable, and as a result more toxic gases are extracted to the air and thus causing more pollution. Continuing this answer it can be added that the process of recycling particular materials releases in the atmosphere a larger amount of toxic materials, e.g. the plastic while burnt produces toxins that exceed the amount released from making it from raw material, not to mention the same toxins released from the recycling centers themselves. The mentioned group points out another direction of factors that can be accused in global carrying capacity changes along with environmental pollution.
The factors that can be related to the growing changes in the environment are the increasing global consumption. To give an example of the level of consumption in a modern country it is worthy of mentioning some facts, e.g. 120 pounds of materials extracted and produced from various resources are spent by an American daily which equals his average weight. In addition, the consumption of products such as meat, energy has doubled, the use of plastic increased five times.
The raised needs of humans in products lead to increased production and as a result, later to the use and disposal of them, which can be blamed for the mentioned changes in the environment. (Kaza 23).
The consequences for this consumption can be seen through the different impacts of this environmental degradation. Loss of forests, animals decline, the effects on the soil, and global climate change are some of these consequences.
The consumer society in which we live advertises the consumption which is the problem and so part of the solution is to change the way society works and reconsider our priorities.
As the carrying capacity and consumption are related, it can be said if the carrying capacity is exceeded then it means that the average level of consumption has been raised drastically. The world has to produce less waste by consuming less in the first place. By reducing waste, reusing products, and conserving energy, recycling as an option is out of the question.
The answer to all these back-and-forths contrasted opinions lies right in the middle. The option at first place is the responsibility of the individual to try to take a look at oneself and then try to make a change. The idea of using less can be the first step to decrease the level of consumption in the community.
Different simple activities can be done in everyday life which will help in starting the changes from ourselves.
These activities might not obvious or global and can be unnoticed, but then as a first step they will be beneficial and as it is said the building of the cities starts with a stone and a long trip with a step. The conservation and saving of the resources is a good tip to start up with. Turning off the light during the day or when it is not being used along with the other home appliances like the TV could be of childish advice when the parents instruct their kids but it makes a difference. In addition to taking shorts and turning off the water when brushing your teeth to save the water.
To go further along it can be added to buy products that can be refilled and reused such as rechargeable batteries and milk bottles; buy only needed products and instead of buying various products similar in usage, buy multi-purpose households.
Teaching children the value of these basic instructions, as tens of thousands of parents and schools do each year helps to cultivate an important awareness of one’s relationship to others and responsibilities to them.
Recycling is a practice that is needed but as a final stance and not in all segments. There is a need to separate the governorate efforts in that direction and the personal and individual. Recycling is needed in areas such as recycling iron products but it is an enormous program that the state is taking care of, and it involves a lot of resources to do.
On the individual aspect, philanthropy is one way to share, give and participate in the community’s social, cultural, and ecological life. «Only private philanthropy can truly provide accountability, responsiveness, flexibility, adaptation to local circumstances, and constant innovation. Only private philanthropy can insist on individual results, rather than enforcing uniform eligibility requirements. Only private philanthropy can isolate the special characteristics of a tiny neighborhood within a large metropolitan area. Only private philanthropy can link the interests of churches, schools, businesses, and families in a single community. Only private philanthropy can set modest but achievable goals and be content to solve one problem at a time. » (Alexander et al.).
The interests of the country we are living in and the land we walk on, the problems, and the consequences of these problems are the responsibility of the state and the individual. The ecological problems and the problems related to carrying capacity and their solutions cannot be observed from one point of view and one opinion. Recycling is a useful process that must be used but as a final step that follows the concept of the term reuse before recycle, useless to throw less. In the opposite opinion the truth most of the time lies there somewhere in between, for there is no constant reality in the points of view, although the scientific reports are believed to be true, the emphasis on one detail might lead to disrupted opinion. Guiding your consciousness to believe that everything is up to you, and taking the problem of the earth ecology not as one of the mythical scientific TV reports, but as personal concern might help in finding a solution that suits all the parties.