Why Recycle?

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” has become the “in” thing to do. It is fashionable and it is also necessary. But it is not something new.

Our ancestors recycled because it was economical and practical. They reused and recycled everything possible out of sheer necessity. They could not run to the store for everything they wanted. Money was often scarce. Some things could not be bought without traveling a long way.

There wasn’t too much need to reduce. Most never had or cooked more than was required at any one time. Yet, with a few exceptions, they had plenty and were comfortable. For the most part, their simple, uncluttered lives were content and happy.

Now the theme of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is necessary in order to protect the world we live in. It has become a matter of survival for the future.

Environmental groups have sprung up everywhere, promoting the now familiar slogan, encouraging everyone to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Some groups have turned the practice into big business. Nearly everything from paper to plastic, from rubber to metal is recycled. It is something that everyone should be concerned with and take an active part in.

One way to alert people to the state of the environment is education. Articles and books have been published with frightening facts and figures of the destruction we are doing to the earth. Television provides horrible images in living colour. Another way to get the message out is through music, as shown in the song below.

It's Recycling Time

We have to keep this old world clean
If we want to stay alive
We have to help each other
If we want to survive
So friends and neighbours everywhere
Come listen to my rhyme
Come help me spread the word around
That it’s recycling time.

Yes, it’s recycling time
It’s time to save the world
We need the help of adults
And every boy and girl
Get serious about it
Pollution is a crime
Tell everyone you know
That it’s recycling time

We have to give this world a chance
To recover what we’ve lost
For we have been neglectful
And we have paid the cost
The oceans and the forest floors
Are covered up with grime
So help me get the message out
That it’s recycling time

Written by: Fay Herridge & Michael T. Wall
Published by: MICHAEL T. WALL MUSIC (SOCAN) 1998

All this is aimed at protecting the earth and the environment we live in. The enormous amount of garbage produced by humans must be reduced. Available space for landfill sites is rapidly disappearing. Incinerators are costly and the resulting ash is toxic.

Smoke from factories and incinerators is polluting the air we breath. Exhaust fumes from motor vehicles and other fuel-burning sources are damaging the earth’s protective ozone layer. This allows the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays to get through the atmosphere, increasing the potential development of cancer and other diseases.

Rainwater carries residue from toxic wastes over, or through, the ground. It then gets into lakes, rivers, etc. and has caused pollution of many water sources. This has had a devastating effect on both plant and animal life. It also poses a growing risk to human life.

Toxic substances are present in the air we breath, the water we drink, and the food we eat. As the amount of pollution increases, so does the health hazards.

Many remedies have been introduced to slow or reverse the environmental damages caused by modern technology and civilized lifestyles. And therein lies the root of much of the problem...modern technology and civilized living!

In our continuing quest for a lifestyle of ease and luxury we have not paused to consider the future consequences of our actions. We have not thought about the legacy we will leave for our children, grandchildren, and all generations to come. Many do not realize just how grave the situation is. We are so wrapped up in our own little worlds that we do not look closely at the big picture.

The majority of us have not practiced our ancestors’ creed of “Waste Not, Want Not!” We have forgotten to be thankful for what we have and not squander it. The earth’s bounty is ours to use and enjoy, but not to destroy! It is time for everyone to pay attention and get serious about it before it is too late. We must protect the legacy, the world of future generations.

© F. Herridge
Published in The Southern Gazette, April 1999

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