Friday, September 23, 2011


In this modern era of globalization, the field of science and technology has advanced tremendously. This great improvement may have benefited the mankind, but it is unfortunately Mother Nature who has to suffer the consequences of development. During this course of increased development since the British Industrial Revolution, many natural resources have been used and are now at the edge of depletion. Today, this problem has alarmed the worldwide nation and they have come out with a solution: recycling, which is the process of turning used items into brand-new materials. The concept is widely used but not widely practised.

The truth is: it is high time for us to leave our ignorance towards the condition of Mother Earth! We should play our part to promote and practise recycling. As the saying goes, “waste not, want not”. In fact, we do not inherit Mother Earth from our ancestors at all, but we actually borrowed it from our descendants. Thus, there is no reason to take the natural resources for granted.

Anyway, the awareness among the Malaysians about recycling is still way below par. According to the statistics provided by the Malaysian Environmental Department, there are 19,000 tonnes of waste produced daily, in which only a meagre 5 percent of them are recycled. There are 230 landfill sites nationwide, in which 80 percent of them will reach capacity within the next two years. What is more, the huge amount of rubbish is equivalent to thirty six PETRONAS Twin Towers! Is that not gruesome enough?

Let me share with you the advantages and methods to recycle the materials. Among the recyclable materials are papers, metals, plastics and glass. To kick this topic off, I will first tell you the recycling of papers. Some of the papers which can be recycled are newspapers, manuals, school books, computer paper, paper boxes, leaflets and catalogues. They need to separate upon recycling. The recycling of paper does the environment more good than harm. By recycling one tonne of paper, we can actually save seventeen trees, 6953 gallons of water, 463 gallons of oil, 587 pounds of air pollution, 3.06 cubic yards of landfill space and 4077 kilowatt hours of energy. Obviously, Malaysians use more than one tonne of paper daily altogether, right?

Next, metals are recyclable, too. They should be drained of liquid, rinsed and placed in bags or boxes before being sent to be recycled. Aluminium cans, food and sauce cans, tin containers of food and beverages, and biscuit tins are made up of metals and should not go into the landfills. The recycling of metal saves a lot of energy and materials. What is more, such raw materials are non-renewable. For instance, to produce steel from virgin ore, it takes four times more energy than the process which uses scrap steel. The reprocessing of scrap steel reduces pollution and mining waste by a massive amount of 70%. In fact, one tonne of steel recycled preserves 3,500 pounds of iron ore and 1,000 pounds of coal, where both are non-renewable and non-biodegradable resources. Best of all, the annual recycling in the steel industry saves enough energy to power about 18 million households for a year! Recycled cans can even be made into airplanes, appliances, furniture, and more. Thus, it is good to think twice before you discard your beverage can relentlessly.

Later, it is time to talk on the recycling of glass. Of course, not every type of glass is recyclable, as some of them contain harmful materials to enable them to serve their purposes, such as tempered glass. Soft drinks and juice bottles, jams and food jars, sauces and seasoning bottles, and vitamins and cosmetic bottles are glass substances which are recyclable. Of course, prior to recycling, they should be washed and stored separately in bags and boxes. One of the advantages of recycling glass is that, the process of recycling just one glass bottle saves enough electricity to light a 100 watt bulb for four houses. Meanwhile, every ton of glass recycled saves nine gallons of fuel. Recycled glass definitely serves more than just being new glass containers-they can be turned into fibre glass insulation, road concrete blocks, tiles and even surf boards. If every household recycles all the glass containers used, even just weekly, we can actually make a huge difference to our mutual home-the Earth!

Plastic, which is mainly made of petroleum, can be recycled too. Plastic soft drinks and juice bottles, mineral water bottles, food and sauce containers, liquid soap an detergent bottles, shampoo and lotion bottles, and plastic bags are some of the recyclable plastics. Since petroleum is a non-renewable source of energy, the reprocessing of plastics can cut down the amount of petroleum consumed so that it can be used for other purposes. Meanwhile, the recycling of plastics saves the Earth from land pollution, because plastics are non-biodegradable.

Thus, I can say that the recycling of various materials bring a great transformation to the environment. As the saying goes, “seeing is believing”. Yet, all of us need to put in utmost effort to recycle more substances than simply stressing on the importance of recycling without taking the necessary actions. As the saying goes, “actions speak louder than words”. What can we do to play our part in saving Mother Earth?

First of all, the Government should promote recycling in a proactive manner. The local Environmental Department should introduce recycling by holding campaigns and recycling drives. In schools, this can be done hand-in-hand with the local Education Department to educate the young minds on the importance of recycling. Such campaigns do not necessary consist of only talks and exhibitions. Various activities such as hands-on demonstrations, essay competitions, quizzes and public speaking competitions can be held to make the event interesting and rope on the entire community to take part in it. In this way, the public awareness on the importance of recycling can be raised.

Next, the local community should play their role to support the government’s efforts to promote recycling. The non-government organizations, associations and educational institutions can hold various “Go-Green” campaigns by holding activities almost similar to that of the Government yet based on their creativity. Besides the usual campaigns, they can hold recycling drives for charity as well, where the scrap items are sent to the recycling centres and the money obtained are donated to charitable organizations. In this way, both Mother Earth and the underprivileged can benefit. Fashion shows which showcase attires made of recycled materials can be hold, too. Such activities can convey messages to the public that recycling can be done creatively and not merely as mundane as throwing them into the recycle bins.

Being eco-conscious individuals, we should do our part to encourage recycling for the sake of Mother Earth. The campaigns organized without the public support are just waste of materials, time, energy and money. One of the easiest ways to recycle is to organize collection drives. We can collect scrap materials from the community to be sent to the recycling centre. Apart from that, we can exercise our creativity and innovation to turn unwanted food ingredients instead of purchasing new containers. As for the papers, the cut-outs and remnants of paper can be cut and stapled to make notepads and little memos. Meanwhile, newspapers can be reused as wrapping paper for gifts. As for handicrafts, instead of purchasing exorbitant materials, we can actually use the lovely illustrations on colourful flyers, magazines or junk mail to spruce up our otherwise dismal lives. Thus, there is absolutely no reason for us to be nonchalant towards the habit of recycling.

In a nutshell, the habit of recycling brings a lot of benefits to better the society and create a greener environment. Besides from conserving and preserving the precious natural resources and materials, we can also reduce contamination to the earth. Wake up everyone! There is no excuse to take the declining amount of natural resources for granted. Thus, everyone should yield more ideas and put in utmost effort to reduce wastage and create a thrifty, prudent society by using the materials efficiently and maximise their usage. Remember that “where there is a will, there is a way”.

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