Recycling helps the planet

By Taylor Cameron

Did you know it takes 1,000 years for plastic to degrade when thrown in a landfill?

Kim Pinnelli provided these and other stats in her report posted to

Just around 20 percent of the plastic bottles used per year are being recycled. Trash uses up to 44 million cubic yards of space in a landfill. Recycling one ton of paper, 2,000 pounds of paper, could save landfill space by 33 cubic yards. That is 33 cubic yards saved for every 20,000 pounds of paper recycled. Also, recycling that much of paper could save seventeen trees, and for every ten tons of paper recycled people can save 170 trees that animals call home. Aside from saving landfill space, recycling plastic bottles help the air and water in areas where people call home. The limited landfill space causes plastic bottles to often get destroyed and depending on the method used, they can release toxic chemicals into the air and the drinking water.

Every year, more than 254 million tons of trash is thrown away by Americans. People also do not recycle as much as they should. Unfortunately, only 34 percent of the 254 million tons of trash gets recycled, that is 85 million tons of trash that could be recycled to help save our planet. Only 50 percent of the 254 million tons of trash people throw away is biodegradable, that is 125 million tons of trash that could be recycled. If Americans could amp up our recycling efforts, in the near future businesses could create more jobs for the people who need them.

Delaney Clark with the student honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, proclaims that PTK collects cans and bottles about every other week on campus. When PTK takes the collected cans and bottles they have gathered, they take them to a facility on 2nd street in Muscatine to be recycled. Also, when PTK takes their two large bags of the cans and bottles, the facility gives them about eighteen dollars for the collected recyclables in the bags. The student honor society has planned to use the money they have saved to go towards their upcoming conference in Kansas City, Missouri.

Everyone minute, 1 million plastic bottles are bought and only half of those bottles will be recycled. Americans throw away as many as 35 billion plastic water bottles each year, and only 25 percent of those plastic bottles that get used are recycled. People have a bad soda habit because they throw away 2.7 million tons of aluminum each year. More shockingly is that those people only recycle half of the aluminum cans they use. Aluminum is 100 percent biodegradable, which means people are wasting a lot of potential recyclables each year. The critical point is that if everyone could try to do their part and recycle as much as they can it could help save the environment as well as our economy. Cutting down on the use of plastic bottles and aluminum cans is one area where individuals could have a major impression. For example, when walking into a local Aldi’s store they offer their customers affordable and reusable paper or plastic bags
to carry groceries for every time they come back for groceries.