What is Recycling?
The first thought that hit my mind when I first heard the word recycling as a kid was the “recycle bin”; that icon on my desktop that hold files that I have deleted from my laptop either because it is deemed to be useless or in error.. This is not far from the definition of recycling because the file kept in the folder could be restored when the document is needed by the user and be completely disposed of through an extra effort of wiping off the documents from the recycle bin.
Recycling is known with a three chasing arrows of the international recycling log portraying its definition which means making something new from another items after series of changes or treatments. With economic development and increasing population, there is certainly a high level of production and consumption of goods and services which output results to waste growth in the environment.
What Can Be Recycled?
Early this year, my younger brother picked up the unused irons and metals that were lying around the environment and handed them over to a peddler in search of abandoned metals. These metals were purchased base on their weight, but he gained ten times what it would have cost us to pay to dispose those items.
Why did the peddler purchase the metal that was useless to us?
The answer is just a word; “Recycling”.
Recycling of items is a habit that everyone ought to cultivate to ensure safety of our environment and enrichment of our society. This can be done by a simple act of reducing waste and reuse of the materials that have been disposed after it has undergone certain processes.
Items that Can Be Recycled
- Iron or metals: This is one of the world most recycled item. The recycling of iron is a long time practice that could be traced to the Iron Age when man gained knowledge on the use of metal. Recycling of metal grew immensely in Europe during the industrial era and has remained the most recycled items in the world. Metal is used domestically and commercially, hence it makes recycling of it a profitable venture.
- Rags: Most people are good recyclers of this item. A rag is a piece of cloth which is often used for cleaning. In almost every home clothes and towels that are not useful to its owners are converted into cleaning rags. However not all kind of fabrics can be used as rags, fabrics made of polyester, rayon and other synthetic materials cannot be used as rags because of their hazardous potential. In cases where rags cannot be used any longer or there are many rags, the rag could be used as compost or sent to a recycling company that converts cotton and wool into industrial cleaning materials.
- Paper: In our schools and homes papers are always lying waste on the ground or unused books kept indiscriminately at home. The papers are later thrown into the dust bin or burnt whereas the papers could be recycled to produce new papers. Paper recycling began in the 10th century, it was first recorded in 1031 when Japanese shop sold repulsed paper.
- Rubber and plastic: More often we find plastics and rubbers on the floor and river banks, this can be recycled into useable things.
How Does Recycling Help Our Environment?
The height of environmental hazards in our environment is largely tied to the poor habit of recycling in Nigeria. Most people grow with the knowledge of a container or nylon our parent called “waste bin” where all unused items are disposed. Most homes and offices have no clear difference between their recycle bin and their waste bin because of the absence of a policy or habit that fosters the recycling of materials that are no longer useful. Recycle bin is rarely used in Nigeria and the world, in homes where there are recycle bin the users use it for disposal of all kind of waste which makes it difficult for disposal.
To save our environment, adequate steps must be taken to control the waste and recycling presents itself as a profitable method for safety. Recycling preserves our environment from pollutions on our air, land and water. Other ways recycling helps our environment includes:
- Reduction of produced waste: The paper, nylon, rubber, tire, rags, metals and other waste that we produce in our homes and offices could be kept in a recycle bin which could be sold to a recycling company. This helps to reduce the waste we have in our waste bin.
- Preservation of our water: The constant disposal of unused items and our waste into gutters and moving water when it rains has forced obstruction of drainages. In most cases the drainages are channeled to the rivers within the area. This is the reason why our rivers are usually filled with waste that has the capacity to destroy aquatic plants and animals.
- Preservation of our land: In various states in Nigeria, wastes are dumped indiscriminately in different areas without regard to its effect on the environment. Most of these wastes contain items that can be recycled. Recycling aids reduction of the waste that are dropped on the street and roadsides.
- Preservation of our air: In 2017 and2018, there was a loud cry in the city of Port Harcourt over a soot (black particles of amorphous carbon) that filled the air. This was as a result of incomplete combustion of waste, oil, coal and other materials that could be recycled if there is an adequate platform for recycling in Nigeria. Also, in several areas in the country, one of the methods used by government agency for waste management is combustion irrespective of the nature of the waste. Although some individuals scavenge through the waste to pick out items that can be recycled. The constant combustion of waste that could be recycled causes depletion of the ozone layer and acidic rain which causes eye damage, breathing problems, skin cancer and rashes.
Financial Benefits of Recycling
The benefit of recycling does not just have an environmental benefit only but an economic benefit. In an economic sense, recycling creates job opportunity, reduces disposal cost, reduces cost for supplies and avails more raw materials.
The environment must be conducive for survival, be it water or land. Many at times, we find variety of waste at the river bank which is unconducive for fishes and other sea organisms and on lands which are hazardous to human health. Recycling as an aspect of waste management, waste is reduced by being recycled and reused.. Recycling of waste is a key consideration in maintaining a pollution free environment. It should be introduced to communities, schools and the society at large with great emphasis as a means of curbing waste pollution.. Platforms to encourage recycling should be created such that an item can be procured from a store and after utilisation of its content, the package such as bottle, plastic etc. returned back to the store or another store that is set aside for that purpose with some form of monetary compensation or reward. Other ideas that would encourage recycling amongst the populace are welcome.