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By Boden Lazio
Most people know to recycle, especially in Southern California. Californian cities and counties have extensive recycling programs for residential areas. For some people, recycling is instinctual. For others, it takes a little more reminder. But why do we recycle? Is it really so important? In this post, we’re going to cover a little of the history of recycling, and why it’s still important to participate in today.
When Did Recycling Take Off?
Recycling is a fairly simple concept. Humans have been finding ways to reuse things for centuries, and there’s even some evidence to suggest paper was being recycled in Japan as early as 1031 CE. Specifically in America, recycling came out of necessity. Resources such as metal were more difficult to come by, so making use of it was vital! And during World War I and II, recycling was promoted as a way people at home could support the country and the war effort.
Towards the ‘60s and the ‘70s, recycling and reusing shifted from a historical necessity to environmentalism. Following World War II, American production boomed. Suddenly we had more resources and waste than we knew what to do with, particularly with new, non-renewable resources like plastic. This new material brought convenience to everyday life in America, but while convenient, plastic doesn’t break down. This meant a new way to dispose of unwanted plastic had to be developed.
What is Recycling Now?
With environmental movements becoming more prominent, recycling became not just a conscious way to deal with waste, but a method by which individuals could take action to manage their own waste responsibly. This is particularly important now because waste management and recycling are part of environmental protection rather than practicality.
But just because we don’t necessarily need to for survival, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still important. In fact, along with environmental awareness, an EPA report in 2020 found that recycling activities in the US accounted for nearly 700,000 jobs and $37 billion in wages. So not only is recycling good for the environment, it provides jobs and wages as well.
Naturally, changes in global agreements and additions of new national recycling laws effect local regulations and recycling efforts. For example, in 2017 the Chinese government declared a new law that banned foreign importation of recyclables, including paper and plastic products. This meant that China would no longer accept international recycling materials on other countries’ behalf. For these countries, including the U.S., the responsibility shifted from foreign export to domestic management. Because of this, California has increased regulations and recycling requirements to deal with the higher volume of waste in a sustainable way.
What Can You Do?
As a community manager, you may have felt the direct impact of these kinds of changes in recycling regulations. Now more than ever, it’s important to be mindful of the materials we usie and where they are going. The best option is to reduce single-use items. The next best is to reuse and recycling responsibly.
Understanding the importance recycling is one thing, but it’s another to play a part in it. On of the ways you can prioritize recycling and responsible waste management is to partner with vendors who are environmentally conscious. At Strategic, we practice safe and responsible waste management specifically tailored to each community. Strategic emphasizes recycling because it is the core of our business to “Honor God, Care for People and Guard the Environment.” We take the initiative to know city or county regulations, help communities implement programs and offer educational resources to management teams to provide for their residents.
Whether it’s for responsible resource management or environmental care, recycling is an important part of sustainability and taking care of the community at large. If you’re interested in partnering with us to recycle responsibly at your community, you can contact us today to find out how you can partner with Strategic to practice responsible and sustainable waste management at your community.