Keep up the good work. It matters.
Remember the starfish story? The story of hundreds of thousands of starfish stranded 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. Another person approaches the rescuer, saying "It's futile! There are so many stranded starfish, and you can only save a small fraction. 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 a single PET bottle or aluminum can.
- You've just saved materials. Instead of going to a landfill or incinerator, that bottle or can will gain new life as a new bottle, can or other object.
- You've saved energy. Because it takes less energy to recycle that 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, we don't have to make another trip to the well head or mine shaft to get more stuff out of the earth.
- You've preserved habitat. Face it- no matter how carefully done, mining and oil drilling creates habitat damage. Sometimes just a little, sometimes massive amounts. Using less saves habitat and our natural systems.
- You've created jobs. Recycling requires people to do it. Repairing or refurbishing old equipment requires labor. 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 so to protect vital natural resources that we want to use. By recycling, you'd reduced the demand for virgin resources in increased the demand for resources we already have. 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.