Publisher’s Corner: Why Do We Recycle?

An impressive 75% of Missourians say they recycle according to the Missouri Recycling Association. With the birth of community curbside recycling programs and single stream recycling (which allows homeowners to commingle recyclables together in one bin making it easier to recycle), recycling has become a way of life. Over the past 20 years, we have grown wise to the need for recycling as the facts of diminishing natural resources have become common knowledge. We can only harvest so many trees for paper and use so much oil to produce plastic products before it all runs out. And without recycling and waste reduction efforts, our natural resources would indeed get used up faster than we can replace them. So recycling and reusing as much waste as we can only makes sense. Every year we celebrate America Recycles Day on November 15. Schools, communities and church groups offer programs and celebrations. For more information you can visit americarecyclesday.org. Recycling has become a part of our collective consciousness. Like the Native American with a tear rolling down his face about litter when I was a child, the iconic “chasing arrows – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” recycling symbol has become part of our lives. Not so long ago recycling was bounced around like a political football, but eventually the vast majority of Americans have come to realize that a more renewable approach to resources is needed for a sustainable future. And what better way to do that then turning old plastic soda bottles into new bottles. Old newspapers into new newspapers, used glass into new glass. And the recycling process produces new jobs and helps grow our economy. Products containing recycled content require less energy to produce than goods made from virgin materials. The entire recycling loop is an incredibly sustainable life model for not only the present but for future generations as well. We are now finding new ways to compost and reuse food waste. Autumn leaves are ground up for free community mulch. A friend of mine just got a new frame for his glasses made from reused metals. Clothes, cars, furniture and much more are now made from recycled materials. My community gives us a waste container and a recycling container to put out for pick up once a week. Over the years it has been amazing to watch how the content of the containers has almost totally switched. Like a magicians act, the content of the trash can is now in the recycling can. And so much less is going to the landfill. We have found ways to recycle electronics because we have so many electronics in our lives. The more of something we have, the more we need to find a way to recycle or reuse it. Reduce, Reuse Recycle. And of course the first arrow is “Reduce.” This is the hardest for Americans to perhaps adopt. We have become a nation of abundance. The best thing about going through an economic recession is being forced to reduce. We have learned to live on less and conserve. A lesson well learned. Why do we recycle? Because even the cookie jar runs out of cookies. And there won’t be enough crumbs to go around. And recyling makes people feel better. Like we can actually do something that makes a difference. The good news is — we are closing the loop and working toward a more sustainable future, one crumb at a time.

Congrats to two of my good friends who have just published new books. Crystal Stevens’ book, “Grow Create Inspire” is available at www.growcreateinspire.com and Phylis Sparks’ new book, “Forgiveness, It’s NOT What You Think It Is” can be found on Amazon & Barnes & Nobel online. Both great reads!

Vote Nov. 8! J.B. Lester, Publisher