The Recycling Heroes


Jade and her classmates Robert and Ian sorting the recycling

Alais Alzaga, Media Arts Editor

Over the years as concerns for the environment arise, recycling has become more popular than ever before. Recycling reduces the amount of natural resources we utilize, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and limits plastic pollution. Many people recycle, but are they doing it right?

As of 2018 only 34.3% of Americans recycle, but it’s a great improvement from when recycling had its debut in the 1970’s when environmentalists started the movement. The issue is that only 9% of our 6.3 billion metric tons of waste is recycled. Many Americans are confused on recycling or don’t even do it right, that is why I talked to the awesome kids in room 313 who help the school by sorting the recycling.

These Sahuaro students pick up the recycling once a week on Wednesday afternoons. First they sort it, usually having to go through a great deal of trash due to students carelessly throwing trash in or even not knowing what can or can’t be recycled. Then they separate bottles and plastics from the cardboard and paper; furthermore, the recycling is transported to the recycling center by Mrs. Suarez, exceptional education teacher. The amount of trash and food being thrown in the recycling is repugnant; it contaminates much of the other recycling, which defeats the purpose. I asked Jade Huang (freshman), as she was recycling with her classmates Ian Schuler (junior) and Robert Gardner (senior). She said the most annoying part is, “It’s really annoying when there is trash that doesn’t belong there, especially gum.” Ms. Leyva, who helps the students sort the recycling, agreed and really wants students to understand how to properly recycle and why it is important.

Make sure when you recycle to pay attention to what you can and cannot recycle, for example:

  • When you recycle a food or drink container be sure to rinse it out until the water runs clear and there is no more residue, let the container fully dry before putting it in the bin.
  • Plastic bottle caps, Styrofoam, and plastic bags are not recyclable.
  • You can’t recycle pizza boxes! If any recyclable has food residue, including grease, it can’t be recycled.
  • Bubble wrap and plastic wrapping is not recyclable.
  • When you crumple a piece of paper it isn’t recyclable.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

Before you recycle follow the other R’s: Reduce and Reuse. Those two come before recycling, so don’t forget them!