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Our increasing appetite and obsession for material things has contributed immensely to the growth of our landfills. Products, whether bought at a store or delivered to our homes, are packaged with materials that are often not biodegradable. Even take-out food is still being packaged with styrofoam and plastics. We buy one-time use products like utensils and cups made of plastic and quickly dispose of them after a gathering. Many conscious minds, eco savvy individuals realize the long term impact of our current consumer practices and soon our governments began creating policies to change our current practices. Recycling was introduced to help protect and preserve our environment and ensure a sustainable globe for future generations.

The Birth of the Recycling Concept

Back in the 1800s, due to the scarcity of materials, “reusing” and “upcycling” products was a popular practice. In fact, we can trace the history of recycling or what we now call recycling to a century ago when ragmen would go door to door to gather fabric to resell in the global market. During the world war, reusing the same materials for the same purpose or repurposing materials for other uses was a way to save money and be practical. Scrap metal was used to make horse shoes, old dresses were re-designed to fit modern tastes. Bottles were returned by consumers for a price to promote the reuse of glass while reducing potential waste. 

Recycling was introduced to help protect and preserve our environment and ensure a sustainable globe for future generations.

The movement and practice took on a different intention in the late 1960s, when the reuse of products were less about the scarcity of materials but more about environmental preservation. Mainstream recycling was launched officially with the first Earth day celebration in 1970. A famous tagline that exemplified this switch in the ideology of recycling can be traced to New England in the early 1970s; “people start pollution, people can stop it.” This movement has evolved to the current system of recycling where consumers sort waste and place them in specific bins to aid the recycling process to ease the burden of the recycling process upstream versus downstream at the waste management depots. 

The deposit-refund system that governments have implemented, encourages consumers to return materials such as containers, bottles and cans that can be recycled to the depots so they can recoup the additional eco fees charged at check out. Refund depots have become popular and has even become a key fundraising activity for sports teams. With these new practices in place, many first world countries have adopted a new attitude and consciousness around waste management. 

But not all waste are treated equally. Paper, glass, cardboard are not treated in the same way as plastic, metal and styrofoam. So, for recycling to work effectively, we have to do our part to sort waste materials at home, in our schools, in our office and everywhere else including food courts and shopping centers where waste is also generated. 

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Recycling Challenges 

Sorting is the first step in the recycling process. It is cumbersome for many and there are still some challenges in practice where there is no oversight on the sorting process. Proper education is necessary for every step of the process to work. Many of us have seen the 3 large recycling bins at work, in malls, and even at the garbage facilities in large apartment complexes. We are expected to consciously make an effort to divide and sort materials based on material type. Paper products are recyclable, bottles can be reused, metal can be repurposed and food can be composted. It sounds easy to sort but it’s not always practical at home, in public or at work.

The  lack of proper education makes it impossible for people to participate effectively. At the office, a bit of orientation or inclusion in an employee handbook might be all employees need to participate effectively in sorting and recycling. At schools, a simple course on recycling and demonstration of the sorting practice will instill good habits for kids. At home in large apartment complexes, discussions at the strata level and enforcement at the property management level, would ensure proper implementation.

In public places where there are sorting bins, proper signage and instructions will help with adherence. Laziness causes people to default to throw everything in the general bin and should not be an accepted reason for non-compliance.

Composting to Save the Environment

Another way to alleviate the waste management issue is composting. Food can’t be recycled in the same way that non-perishable materials can be. Because it is perishable and has a short life span, food can either be immediately donated for consumption or discarded and decomposed. Food waste composting is the process of turning waste food into a humus rich soil. There are unique properties in food that makes them the perfect compost material and we can efficiently recycling system.

Food waste that is not composted pose danger to the environment because they convert into greenhouse gases called methane that is both unhealthy and toxic to the environment and humans. But proper treatment of it, can turn this potentially toxic waste into a useful alternative for agriculture and our food ecosystem. 

The unfortunate reality of this food waste management solution is a lack of understanding as to why we need to do this and how it benefits or negatively impact the environment. We resist the idea of having to run to the compost every two days to dispose of food waste in a dumpster full of insects and bad odor. It’s often time consuming, inconvenient and dirty. A great alternative is to use a garburator in the kitchen to tackle the source of the problem.


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The Harmful Effects of Plastics

Another culprit in posing risk to our environment is the widespread use of plastics. Plastic is in many products – its durable, versatile, cost effective characteristics make it a material of choice for many industries. At the consumer level, plastic bags are the number one major contributor to environmental degradation. Five hundred billion plastic bags are used annually around the world.

Governments have imposed the eco fee of five cents to curb the single use consumption of plastics at the store level and gradually we are starting to see the change in behavior. Many customers are now favoring the fabric reusable bags over plastic bags. Cotton, bamboo, hemp bags and other eco-friendly options are what people are advised to use to help with environmental preservation. 

Alternative Materials

Another effective way to support a sustainable planet is to make conscious choices around materials you purchase. Bamboo is an ecofriendly, biodegradable renewable resource. There are over 1500 species of bamboo in the world and its renewable characteristic make it the ideal ingredient for producing many types of materials. Its abundance, low maintenance requirements for growth and organic nature means it requires little other resources for its survival.

It biodegrades naturally between 4 months to 3 years and its presence even reduces carbon dioxide in the air by 35 %. Its versatile and durable nature make it the perfect raw material to replace plastic. Styrofoam packaging materials, plastic utensils and synthetic fabrics can be replaced with eco-friendly bamboo. With education and awareness we can make different choices and change our behavior to align with a eco-friendly practices to make the earth a sustainable environment. 

Making Better Choices

If we continued down the path of materialism and the high consumption of single use products, landfills will quickly overtake our available land resources. Creating a sustainable environment is a task for everyone and it begins with effective waste management habits including sorting and composting then making conscious decisions to purchase the same products made of eco-friendly materials such as bamboo so that even if we didn’t follow the arduous task of recycling, our waste will still decompose naturally and dissolve quickly into the earth in a natural non-toxic form. Choosing products made of bamboo is one way to ensure a sustainable and livable planet for future generations.

To learn more about alternative, eco-friendly products for your home, for yourself or for your business, view our assortment of products.




Let's Hear from You

2 thoughts on “The Difficult Challenges of Recycling

  • Augustine MorganMay 11, 2021 at 5:17 am

    An amazing article to read!
    Recycling may be challenging, but it is the only way to sustain our planet and our lives. If we want to enjoy living and not just bear it, we should shift to biodegradable products in every sphere of life. This is the key to our healthy life. I’ll share this ahead!

  • Cameo RobinsonSeptember 7, 2021 at 5:01 am

    Outstanding work!
    In my 36 years of life, I witnessed when recycling was done for different biodegradable materials and when recycling started disappearing. This is why our past few decades went healthier. Now, we should again go for those practices.

    Keep working hard.

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