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A small bit about why we should recycle

Updated on May 7, 2016

The Environment

Animals are the most beautiful things on this Earth, and I believe this wholeheartedly. I am an aspiring veterinarian, and also I just have a soft heart for animals in general. Animals lack the ability to care for the environment that they live in. Humans tend to forget that they are animals just like dogs, cats, lions, and many other creatures. We tend to think that we are superior to animals because we have the cognitive ability to understand ideas and actually have a concept of time and other such things. As a result of this mentality, humans are destroying the environment that animals inhabit in several ways, causing them to die off.

A poem that is worthwhile to read when discussing this topic is “Birdsong Interpreted” by Tom Disch. This poem takes a turn on just how we as humans perceive the beautiful songs of the birds in the morning and sometimes throughout the day. Humans see the bird songs as coming from a happy bird that is just chipper about life and existing in general, and who has seen the sun. This poem takes things from the bird’s perspective, in which the bird is angry that the humans have invaded their lands. The bird says, “Everything was hunky-dory / Till you disturbed the eco-balance” (Disch, lines 4-5). When the bird makes this accusation, he is referring to all of the pollution and deforestation that humans have done, causing harm to the animals currently living there.

According to a video I found by DNews, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that approximately 12% of solid waste in America is plastic. The average American uses up roughly 167 bottles every year, but remember that is an average; this means that some Americans use more. With how many people live in this country, that is over fifty-two billion bottles per year, of which only about twelve billion get recycled. For every one ton of recycled plastic, roughly 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space is saved for something else. Plastic is not biodegradable, so it just takes up space in the landfills. Plastic is made of Polyethylene terephthalate which is easy to recycle and reuse. When plastic is sent to be recycled, it is sent to a facility where it gets ground into flakes, cleaned, and then melted into small pellets. These pellets can be used to make all kinds of plastics, and the recycling process is much more energy and cost efficient than having to make new bottles and other plastics all the time. (“Does Recycling”) I have a classmate named Payton Comer tell me that she has a relative who is very definite about recycling. If everyone recycled then these things would no longer take up space in these landfills and would be less likely to end up being the death of several animals.

Mankind’s way of life in general harms the environment; not just the convenience of water bottles and then throwing them in the nearest garbage can. Several people refuse to eat any kind of meat because they refuse to support how the animals get slaughtered for our own selfish taste buds. Switching to just fruits and vegetables is not the best option environmentally, however, as chemicals, fertilizers, insecticides, and herbicides are all used on these plants to yield the maximum production. These chemicals go into the air and the soil, and fertilizer run-offs cause toxic algal blooms which kill any kind of aquatic animal. According to Green Living, a study done by the Water Project says that nearly a billion people in the world do not have access to clean water. Also the United Nations says that air pollution causes 3.5 million premature deaths every by household air pollution, and 3.3 million deaths by outdoor air pollution.(Patterson). This article has a list of a few things that can be done to help the environment from being destroyed as it is: Grow seedlings in old milk cartons or socks, repurpose household items whenever possible, use reusable grocery bags, buy bulk food, create a compost pile in your backyard, carpool, take seven minute or less showers, use a clothesline to dry laundry, and invest in renewable energy sources like solar panels (Patterson).

One of the things I want to discuss is the ocean. The Earth is mostly water, and houses quite a few living creatures. It is also used for several recreational activities like swimming and surfing, and also polluting. The thing that comes to mind when I think of ocean pollution is the plastic rings from six packs of cokes and such products. Those get stuck around the necks of creatures like turtles when they are smaller, and when they grow up, it suffocates them and kills them because it gets too tight and they cannot get it off. The occasional floating debris of garbage does not bother most people, but fish eat these things and it can kill them as their bodies are not made to process the chemicals in the trash.

Several people do not think that climate change is a big deal, or even that it is real despite what several scientists have proven. Onyr Tutulmaz wrote a piece on carbon dioxide emissions and the effects of it. He notes that about 30% of human caused carbon dioxide has been absorbed by the ocean. There is a figure on page 786 that shows carbon dioxide emission in parts per million (ppm) has mostly been in recent years. “The two third of this emissions released so far is caused from fossil fuel usage since 1750. The remaining one third has been released by land usage change which includes mainly the effects of deforestation.” (Tutulmaz, page 787). Several well developed countries have agreed that something needs to be done about the carbon emission. Tutulmaz states that the US proposes to cut carbon emission by 30% and EU by 60%, both by 2025.

Trophy hunting can be best described as when someone kills an animal to mount the head on a mantle, turn the poor thing into a rug, or even have it stuffed to display. Hunting for sport is just shooting the animal for fun and leaving the body for some other creature to deal with. I prefer to call both of these hunting forms a disgrace, because the animals are not being used for practical purposes and they died just because someone wanted to play with a gun. This becomes an issue when an animal species starts to become low in number. When something becomes scarce, people want it and it becomes expensive. Hunter’s kill an endangered species because they are a rare find, permits are cheap, and people will pay large amounts of money to get their hands on it, dead or alive. (Brunson).

Why do humans think they can destroy the environment around them and not care about what they are doing to the animals? Everyone knows that littering is wrong, but it still happens for some reason. We have plenty of space for the people who are living; therefore, we do not need to remove an animal’s home to make one for a person. According to Alex Davies, the entire human population could fit in the state of Texas if we were in the density of New York City. Humans should be obligated to recycle things, and properly throw away garbage. Animals deserve to live happily just as humans do, so we should give them the opportunity. As humans, it is our duty to take care of the planet that we live on, before it is too late and we are having to try and reverse the damage that has already been done. Even a small change in an individual’s life (such as recycling on a small scale) can help keep animals from dying off. The ecosystem is a balance that must be kept in order for the environment to stay inhabitable by any life. We must figure out a way to live in harmony and respect the animal’s space before they inhabit our homes and kill our pets, and possibly even children. We must leave the world better than we found it.


Works Cited

Brunson, M.W., Dahlgren, D.K., Guttery, M.R., Messmer T.A., and Robinson, J.D. "Declining Populations of Greater Sage-grouse: Hunter Motivations When Numbers Are Low." Wiley Online Library. Ed. Matthew Gompper. John Wiley & Son, 20 May 2015. Web. 7 Mar. 2016. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.lib-proxy.jsu.edu/doi/10.1111/acv.12213/abstract>.

Comer, Payton. Personal interview. 14 Mar 2016.

Davies, Alex. "At NYC's Density, the World's Population Could Live in Texas." TreeHugger. Narrative Content Group, 27 July 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/at-nycs-density-the-worlds-population-could-live-in-texas.html>.

Disch, Tom. “Birdsong Interpreted”. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 10th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2013. 1284. Print.

“Does Recycling Actually Help?” DNews. 15 Mar 2016. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=osjRUoodb7Q>.

Patterson, Susan. "How Do Humans Affect the Environment?" LoveToKnow. Greenliving, n.d. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. <http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/How_Do_Humans_Affect_the_Environment>.

Tutulmaz, Onyr. "Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Carbon Cycle Basics: What should we do Next?" International Journal of Social Science and Humanity 6.10 (2016): 785-789. ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

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