By Clara Fang
Towson is currently participating in Recyclemania, a national competition that takes place between February 3 until April 5 among more than 300 colleges and universities to recycle and to reduce waste. American University won 1st place in the Grand Champion category last year by recycling 85 percent of its waste. Towson placed 164th by recycling 24 percent of its waste. Towson’s rival, University of Maryland-College Park, placed 88th by recycling 35 percent of their waste. But why is it important to recycle? Consider these facts:
- In 2009, Americans produced enough trash to circle the Earth 24 times.
- Over 75 percent of waste is recyclable, but roughly 30 percent is recycled.
- We generate 21.5 million tons of food waste each year. That food would reduce the same amount of greenhouse gas as taking 2 million cars off the road if it was composted.
- Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on an iPod. Recycling 100 cans could light a bedroom for two whole weeks.
- Recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy used to make aluminum cans from new material.
- Americans throw away 25,000,000 plastic bottles every hour.
- Americans threw away almost 9 million tons of glass in 2009. That could fill enough tractor trailers to stretch from NYC to LA (and back!).
- If Americans recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, about 25 million trees could be saved each year.
- The average person in America? generates over 4 pounds of trash every day and generates about 1.5 tons per year.
Waste does not disappear from the Earth when it is thrown away; it still exists and affects the environment. In fact, so many places in America have run out of space to put their trash that communities are shipping trash overseas. Developed countries often pay impoverished communities in other countries to receive and deal with their waste.. In many cases, waste is shipped overseas to be “processed” by people in developing countries without proper equipment or procedures.
About 70 percent of the world’s annual 500 million tons of electronic waste ends up in China according to a report by China Business News. Workers use their bare hands to dismantle e-waste, or are protected only by gloves and masks. According to a CNC report, “They crack open the electronics and strip away the valuable parts that can be reused, such as gold and silver. Workers are also cooking [burning] circuit boards to remove chips and solders, and burning wires and other plastics to liberate copper.” Burning circuit boards release toxic fumes that can cause cancer and leukemia.
Please recycle. You will not only help the environment, but you will also save lives.