Once Upon a Time, recycling was seen as boring. You had to do it because it was the right thing to do, you believed in it, it made a difference…you hoped. It was an article of faith among “greenies”, a means of survival for some homeless, a nuisance for many, a civic duty for most. But the questions always were there. Does this really make a difference? Does it really matter?
Did you ever hear the starfish story? Hundreds of thousands of starfish are stranded one morning at low tide as the sun comes up. A single person is picking up the starfish one at a time and throwing them back to the sea before the rising sun scorches them. Another person approaches the rescuer, saying “It’s futile! There are so many stranded starfish, and you can only save a few. Does what you’re doing really matter?” And the rescuer picks up another starfish, looks at it a while and says, “Yes. It matters to this one.”
I love that story and I think it pertains to every bottle can, or other object we recycle. Let’s think for a minute about the impact of recycling that PET bottle or aluminum can you have right there in your hand.
You put the bottle or can in the recycling bin or the Greenopolis Recycling Kiosk or the Scan@School bin. But you’ve done much more than that!
- You’ve just saved materials. Instead of going to a landfill or incinerator, that bottle or can gains new life as a remade bottle, can or other object. No need to use new materials to make another one; you made the new one out of the old one.
- You’ve saved energy. It takes less energy to recycle materials than to make from scratch in nearly every case. You’ve just conserved energy and the coal, oil or natural gas needed to make that energy.
- You’ve saved a trip to the oil well, mine or gas field. Because you reused the material in step one, and saved the energy in step two, we don’t have to make another trip to the well head or mine shaft to get more stuff out of the earth. Less need to “drill, baby, drill”.
- You’ve preserved habitat. Face it- no matter how carefully it’s done, mining and oil drilling creates habitat damage. Sometimes just a little, sometimes massive amounts. Using less saves habitat and our natural systems. No more Gulf oil spews.
- You’ve created jobs. Recycling requires people to do it. Repairing or refurbishing old equipment requires labor. So does recycling raw materials. By reusing, restoring and recycling, you create green jobs for the people who do the work.
- You’ve improved national security and saved lives. Much of our troops’ bloodshed overseas is done to protect vital natural resources that we want to use. By recycling, you’ve reduced the demand for virgin resources and increased the demand for the resources we already have, literally right in our hands. This helps to keep our troops and resources safely at home, and our nation more secure.
- You feel better about yourself. You’re not some slacker tossing perfectly good materials into the trash heap or oceans and streams. You’re a responsible citizen who’s making a better world for all of us.
That’s 7 good reasons why we reward you for recycling at our Greenopolis Recycling Kiosks, PepsiCo Dream Machines and Scan@School programs. Keep up the good work. You’ve just sent a message to the next generation of “starfish” that it matters to this one…