If everything stays the same, imagining what would happen to our planet is not hard. We could get all dystopian and grim, but that won’t help. What will help is staying positive and focused on making any improvement we can. At the same time, it is crucial to remember what is at stake if we don’t tackle the complicated challenges of taking care of our waste problem.
Currently, microplastics are slipping through the filters in the water systems, ending up in waterways where they are consumed by wildlife. In turn, humans consume those plastics when they eat seafood. So lest we think this is not directly impacting us, it is.
Our landfills are, well, getting full. Estimates online say the United States will run out of room in landfills in 5 to 62 years, depending on what part of the country you are talking about. In 2015, Waste360.com stated, “Seven states are looking at running out of landfill space in the next five years, one state will reach capacity in five to 10 years, and three states have 11 to 20 years to go. But 22 states have available landfill space for decades to come.” Do we like those statistics? No. Yes, recycling is slowing those numbers down but running out of landfill space or talking about how many years are left for landfills isn’t a topic that we should have to talk about. We need to find better ways to take care of our trash.
Wildlife. Do we have to talk about the wildlife? No one wants to admit our role in animals’ struggles due to human carelessness. Unfortunately, a painful reality is easy to see. Take a walk on a lakeshore or beach; you can’t go too far without seeing trash in the water or buried in the sand. It’s gotten a lot better in recent years, but there is still a lot of ground to gain. Animals often mistake bits of plastic for food. Chemicals from plastics, metals, and other materials impact fish, birds, mammals, and more. These chemicals can magnify in the animals and cause serious health issues and side effects. Often, many of the materials causing harm to our wildlife can be recycled.
Recycling benefits the environment, economy, wildlife, natural resources, and communities. It can be tricky knowing what can be recycled where, but with all the advances in recycling and manufacturing, the reward outweighs the work. After all, think about what is at stake.