This summer, on vacation, I spent nine days in our nations capital. It was remarkable in all aspects, but one. The people who subsided there had no respect for the earth they lived on. In Washington, DC, everywhere I went, there were very few recycling bins. With an exception of the Smithsonian institutes, I did not see one permanent recycling bin in a subway, restaurant, fast food place, or apartment complex. In a very few tourist areas, they had temporary recycling bins with a stand and a plastic bag attached that said “Recycling”. Walking around the National Mall, trashcans were overflowing with plastic bottles and cardboard boxes that could all have been recycled. The amounts of recyclables being thrown into landfills around the United States on a daily basis should not be acceptable. Being the “Hot Spot” for the Fourth of July, with millions of people traveling their that week, you would think Obama’s own neighborhood would be more sustainable for the benefit of our environment.

Today, recycling, maintaining our sustainability and taking care of our environment is a big thing. While the best method is to reuse our wastes, this often cannot be done. Therefore, the only way to go seems to be to recycle, to use the same materials to make that same product again and again. While this seems to be a great idea, it is not always the case. I usually carry a water bottle in my bag. I drink bottled water not because I believe it is safer or cleaner than tap water; but rather merely out of convenience. It allows me to have quick access to water when I’m not near a faucet or a fast-food restaurant. I also refill my water bottle whenever possible. This is reusing waste products, and therefore the best way to sustain our environment. However, water bottles break. When they do, I always make sure to throw them into the recycling bin, not the nearest, convenient trash can. I believe recycling is the single most convenient, easiest thing we can do to create a more sustainable environment. With recycling, we decrease the amount of needed virgin plastic as well as create more living space for us. The first step in the plastic recycling process is sorting at a recycling facility. Many regions use single stream recycling, in which all recyclables are collected at once, so first it’s necessary to separate out basic categories like paper, plastics, and metals. Next, the plastic needs to be sorted for recycling. During sorting, plastic is divided by type. After sorting, the plastic is ground into chips or flakes. At this point, the plastic is usually mixed with a lot of impurities, including pieces of labels, bits of the material the plastic once held, and so forth. It needs to be washed in a bath, which will get the plastic clean, before the plastic is dried and then melted. Once melted, the plastic is formed into pellets. Then can be melted and created into new plastic necessities.

Think about it, every where you go, everything we use, has a plastic wrapper or is made out of plastic. The simple act of placing those reusable items in a separate bin could make our earth last generations longer. We can be the turning point to create a more eco-friendly, sustainable environment.

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