Hi, my name is Ryan Poon and I live in Oakland, CA.
I have found that the use of plastic water bottles are a central part to the degradation of the environment and to the topic of reuse and recycling. At my high school, I have fortunately had access to water fountains installed around campus. I daily bring a metal water bottle that I can refill throughout the course of the day so I don’t have to bring and waste plastic bottles after they are drunk. Every class, I drink about half a liter of water and then refill my bottle between classes. Whenever I do, I often take note of a small screen at the top of the fountain that states how many plastic water bottles we have saved from consumption. The numbers stun me; the students at my school have drunk over 100,000 plastic bottles worth of water at each fountain, without the plastic waste. This is a quintessential example of how much difference using one’s own water bottle can make. Using this system as an example, I think the best way to promote recycling is not by promoting a certain waste bin, but by promoting other sustainable alternatives. Though it may be expensive, installing water fountains in areas where many people gather or pass by would support the use of reusable water bottles or the fountain itself instead of a plastic water bottle. That way, we won’t have to worry about the waste if there isn’t any waste in the first place (except in the production, but the of use the reusable bottle over and over again probably cancels out the production waste).
Despite this, recycling bins should be kept for the other miscellaneous objects, such as sheets of paper, because the paper cannot be cleaned and reused. It must be recycled into material that can be used for more paper. However, can you think of any alternatives to other objects, such as plates, utensils, or soda cans? What if school cafeterias used plastic plates instead of paper ones? Though this may require a small staff for washing dishes, it may be better than toss hundreds of paper plates that simply serve as a surface to eat food off of. What about the drinks in a vending machine? Any ideas?