TAD Student Bridget Boyle: Recycling is NOT the answer

There is a reason the saying goes “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” We as a collective society need to stop relying on the recycle part. Focus on reducing your impact on the Earth and reusing materials that have already been made. The process of recycling and the look of recycling bins presents people with a false sense of a solution to the current environmental crisis.

China stopped importing plastic from countries in 2018. The Wire published a story on March 3, 2019, detailing that since the institution of the ban imports of plastic have decreased by 99%. From 2018 on, in most instances when you choose to recycle, you are essentially throwing it away. There is no infrastructure or profit basis in the United States for companies to recycle. For example, “some communities, like Minneapolis, stopped accepting black plastics and rigid #6 plastics like disposable cups. Others, like Philadelphia, are now burning the bulk of their recyclables at a waste-to-energy plant, raising concerns about air pollution,” according to Yale Environment 360. Another article states, “that cities around the country are no longer recycling many types of plastic dropped into recycling bins. Instead, they are being landfilled, burned or stockpiled,” according to The Guardian. Therefore most, if not all, of recycled materials go to landfills. Recycling does absolutely nothing for the environment.

The process of recycling and the look of recycling bins presents people with a false sense of a solution. This is essentially a circumvention of any other environmental action plan. People believe they are a part of the solution when they recycle when in fact this is a causation of other environmental problems. In order to create actual change, we need to stop recycling and start looking for other, sustainable solutions.

Loyola should make the change from recycling bins to action. There are many aspects of campus that can be altered in order to be more environmentally friendly, but the existence of recycling bins on campus gives people the illusion of good-doing. So, we as a student body should DEMAND action that actually makes a difference for the environment. The facade of an environmentally friendly campus is gained through the look of recycling bins, but this image is not reality. Let’s foster progress!

The Orleans Room can transition from styrofoam cups to mugs that can be reused for hot drinks. This is a real possibility considering Sodexo has provided mugs at Tulane in the past for the same purpose. Loyola can ban the food service companies in the Danna Center from providing straws. These would be easy, real, sustainable changes we could make as a campus. Thus, let’s get rid of ineffective recycling bins that create circumvention and work on making changes that actually impact the environment. 

Bridget Boyle
September 8, 2019

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