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National Recycling

An example of some of the recycling containers in Spain

I love living in the United States, but sometimes I have a problem with our leaders. They have so much pride in themselves and don’t want to ask or look to the way other nations are accomplishing some of the same things that they are trying to carry out. Instead, they prefer to reinvent the wheel, often ignoring research or forming new committees to do new research, which takes time and money.

Take the issue of recycling, for example. Spain has managed to implement a system of recycling to the entire nation. Not only is there a uniform system, but it is available to everyone, everywhere. From large urban cities like Madrid and Burgos, to suburbs of those cities, to teeny, tiny pueblos. There are receptacles everywhere for glass, paper, plastic and metal.

I have lived in 4 states throughout my life and I have seen a huge difference from community to community of services that are available or non-existent in each. For all the phenomenal advancements we have made  in this country in the areas of medicine and technology, I cannot understand why we are still archaic in our efforts to recycle.

In some communities people still burn their trash and things that are recyclable. In others you have to separate your items and transport them to specific locations around the city. Other communities (I’m thinking of very small towns in Arizona where I lived for a few years) don’t have much to offer at all.

In Chicago, where I now live, there is a system based on location. Blue bins sit next to the trash bins in some neighborhoods and residents can deposit their recyclable items as often and conveniently as their trash. Other residents are not so fortunate. Recycling bins are only available  in public parks, but not all parks. It is often inconvenient for folks who live in these neighborhoods, as they have to travel to recycle and many rely on public transportation to get around. Would you want to keep items in your home or apartment until you could get them to a recycling location? Would you want to haul around your paper towel tubes, peanut butter jars, cereal boxes and soda cans on the bus once or twice a week? I know that I would not. It would be very inconvenient for me, as it is for the majority of people who are in this situation.

Despite being in the news for high unemployment rates and possibly needing  help from the EU to help the country financially, Spain gets it. They understand that if you expect people to take part in a beneficial program, you have to make it easy, accessible and a way of life for them.

Like any new change, a national recycling system would cost money to implement. It would be helpful if there was information distributed explaining the new changes that would affect each community and how the system worked. Of course it would cost money to keep up as well. In the long run, there would only be benefits. One of them would be that there is a unified system for the country. Another benefit would be that each city and state would not have to decide if they have enough money in their budget to start a recycling program, continue a program or revamp an existing program. The biggest payoff of all would be that there would be less trash that ended up in our landfills, parks and waterways.

Don’t you think it’s time for a change?