Reduce, reuse, and recycle. These three words have been passed down for decades, embedding the minds of millions of people all around the world. But it is no accident that recycling is the last word out of the three; the recycling industries wanted that word to be stuck in people’s minds for decades to come. And, it did. Recycling has transformed to become a term associated with saving the earth. The common myth is that if we recycle our products into one big, blue bin, we are benefiting the earth. However, despite the widespread promotion of it, recycling is harming our planet. If we continue to focus on the recycling aspect of the three R’s, our planet will no longer be inhabitable, and the human population will deteriorate. Thus, the pervasive belief that recycling will solve all of our plastic problems must be eradicated, as it encourages the use of plastic, destructs communities, and adds to air pollution.
Firstly, the plastic industries’ promotion of recycling is only a disguise for the encouragement of plastic use. According to a documentary by NPR, IRW, and FRONTLINE, the idea of recycling was promoted in order to hinder people from worrying about their usage of plastic. In fact, the chasing arrows that the regular individual sees on a product and dumps directly into the recycling bin aren’t completely truthful. Rather, the symbol leaves an impression that all those plastic products are actually being recycled, leading people to trust the heart of the recycling industry and continue to use more and more plastic. Instead of focusing on reducing their plastic consumption, people are encouraged to continue buying, using, and dumping huge amounts of plastic each day. And according to National Geographic, 91% of the world’s plastic hasn’t even been recycled. There are 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste laying in random parts of our world right now. Innocent animals are confusing those non-biodegradable pieces of plastic with food, humans eating those animals are consuming harmful microplastics, and the sanity of our planet is just getting foggier. It is clear that the recycling industry is simply covering up their promotion of plastic with the idea of recycling, and it is time that we take measures to reduce, reuse, and help our environment sustain.
The 91% of plastic waste that will remain on our planet for eternity is damaging communities. Previously, it was mentioned that there are more than six billion tons of plastic waste on our planet right now. But where does all of that waste end up? According to The Guardian, the plastic that we dump out in our recycling bins every single week is deposited onto dumping grounds; Ghana, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Somalia, China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Sweden are only a few of the world’s largest dumping grounds. According to a study by the Environment and Social Development Organization, more than 83% of child workers in Bangladesh were exposed to the harmful plastic waste, and consequently, over 15% of these children die each year. By buying products in plastic covers every day, we are assisting the plastic industries’ plight to raise money from the plastic they produce and instead, harming innocent children and families within thousands of communities all over the world. Recycling is posing threats to our communities, fellow people, and even the environment.
The processes by which recycling commences only add to the already existing problem of air pollution. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 8.7% of all plastic was actually recycled in 2018. In other words, the other 91.3% of plastic that people unassumingly threw in their recycling bins in the hopes it would be recycled.