It’s Time to Change How We Talk About Recycling in the Media

You’ve probably heard the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” more times than you can count. It’s a slogan worth mentioning in a world where rising plastic pollution is  threatening the future of our oceans.

A report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our waters. This problem not only impacts the ecosystems of our oceans, but it also affects human health. 

These studies are alarming. However, compared to previous years, the global community is more aware of the devastating effects of climate change.

There’s a noticeable increase in those choosing to recycle their trash instead of just throwing it away, and the use of reusable water bottles and shopping bags continues to increase. 

Although the environmentalist in you might feel satisfaction in the disposal of a full recycling bin, the hard truth is that your greasy Chinese take-out box will probably end up in a landfill. In fact, many of the items we put in our recycling bins are not always recyclable. 

If we want to keep our planet clean, it’s necessary to shift the narrative that focuses on what an individual can do for  the environment and start focusing it on what big corporations can do. Us, along with big corporations, have the courage to fight against pollution. 

Private companies are mainly in charge of waste management in the United States, so economics has a heavy influence on recycling. If a company rules that your plastic bottle will cost too much to recycle, than there’s a chance your efforts will go to waste (no pun intended). 

How can the media help?

It might be a cliché to say, but the media is truly the voice of the people. The Campaign efforts of many NGOs, which are non-profit organizations that work independent of the government, have been successful because of  a high amount of media coverage. 

More reporting by journalists showcasing environmental issues may spur the government into action. If the government were to tax landfills, it would pressure companies to participate more in the recycling process. This persuades companies that rely on plastic for packaging to ditch this method.

The media can also start linking the consumer and the seller to create a market for reusable products. Demanding packaging regulations for corporations selling household items will expand the market for reusable products.

This will give companies an incentive and a consumer base willing to package their products in reusable or biodegradable materials. 

If top corporations meet the market demand,,  this will create a business model that benefits from recycling at reasonable costs of processing and packaging. A cascade-effect will then follow encompassing small businesses.. 

How can you help?

To create this market, consumers need to take a more prominent role in this issue. Making sure that you are using environmentally friendly products made from reusable material is essential. 

Participating in beach clean-ups in your local communities and fostering discussions about climate change and its dangers to our environment are other ways that you can help.

Busting myths about recycled products such as the misconception surrounding their “high price” will aid in an increased market demand, even on a small-scale. And, as always, don’t forget to “reduce, reuse and recycle.”