Recycling increases chance of healthy environment

by Life Editor Melissa Parker

Recyclables and other waste litter the roadways, the waterways and our campus.

This litter not only makes our communities look bad, but it is also a hazard to our environment.

Wind, traffic and animals move litter to unfortunate areas like lawns and gutters. Litter near storm drains and beach debris are also likely to wash into waterways, with potential for environmental contamination, according to the Keep America Beautiful website.

Each year in the U.S., people produce 250 million tons of trash, enough to cover the state of Texas twice, according to thinkprogress.org. Of the items people throw away, 80 percent are recyclable, but we only recycle 28 percent.

There are islands of garbage floating in our oceans. In the north Pacific, the garbage patch is estimated to be twice the size of Texas, according to drinkamara.com.

These statistics are alarming.

We’ve all seen the pictures of animals injured by our litter.

I admit I am not the best at recycling, but I am making an effort to change by controlling the amount of waste my family produces and paying attention to our recycling habits.

The amount of trash we produce, along with our disposal methods, must change.

Alabama ranked as one of the worst states for littering in 2011 and has moved up to below average in 2014, according to the American State Litter Scorecard. This shows Alabamians are working harder to clean up our state, but we still have progress to make.

Keep America Beautiful and local organizations like Keep the Shoals Beautiful and People Against a Littered State (PALS) are taking the initiative and encouraging others to help.

With programs such as Adopt a Mile, Adopt a Stream and Adopt an Area, Alabama PALS invites people to claim a spot in Alabama and volunteer to keep it clean. That’s an excellent idea for student organizations needing service hours and wanting to help the environment.

Keep the Shoals Beautiful encourages people to volunteer, sponsor or join the organization and “take action, ownership and responsibility for protecting and enhancing their environment,” according to the website.

With all the opportunities to get involved in cleaning up our state, I encourage each of you to take the initiative and do something.

Let’s make a conscious decision to keep it clean and leave this planet a better place for future generations.