Sunday, May 4, 2014


I remember one summer I was home watching T.V. Unfortunately I did not have cable, so I had to stick to the local channels. I ended up watching PBS because there are educational, yet very interesting films and shows on there sometimes. Anyway, the point is, I watched a documentary titled “Garbage Dreams.” A little background on the film is that it was released in 2010 and it is about the Zaballeen (“garbage people”) that live on the outskirts of Cairo. They make a living by recycling garbage in a very efficient manner. The focus is on three teenage boys and their struggles of this way of living. This film made me think about recycling and how important it really is; I highly suggest this film if you’re interested in this topic.  For more information on this film click on this link:

It was eye opening in many ways, but I want to focus on one aspect: recycling.
Although this film is four years old, I think it is still a relevant topic to be talking about—we are not recycling enough. I have to admit, I do not always recycle myself, but I am definitely going to change that. Every piece of recyclable material that we do not recycle adds up! According to, only about 30% of waste is recycled, while 75% of our waste is recyclable! This is a huge difference! By now, we should have already managed to become more efficient at recycling. The Zaballeen recycle an impressive 80% of their waste.

We tend to think that one little thing that we don’t do will not have an effect, but it does because many people think this way. However, this is not the only reason why we do not recycle. In my social psychology class we learned about attitudes and when they do or do not predict behavior. One of the ways is that it depends on the amount and intensity of other influences. To help us better understand this idea my professor used recycling as an example. One may endorse that they are for recycling but due to other factors may or may not actually behave in a way that displays this attitude. These factors could be if there was an extra cost to recycling or maybe the apartment complex in which you live does not have a place for you to throw away your recycling.
Why is the percentage of waste that we recycle so low? In my opinion it has a lot to do with being informed. There are several wonderful programs and campaigns about recycling and they are doing an excellent job, but I’m talking about the general public. The general public probably doesn’t know that only 30% of waste is recycled and how terrible that percentage is. In addition, many people do not know how to recycle. There are certain items that can be recycled and then those that cannot. The problem is that some people may think that some items are not recyclable and they are and then vice versa. The trouble with this is that the items thrown in a trash bin are taken straight to a landfill where regular waste is deposited. However, if you were unsure if your pizza box is allowed to be recycled because it has some grease and maybe even some cheese residue, it is better to toss this in the recycling bin. The reason for this is that sorting centers are able to "correct many of your mistakes.” Now, I'm not saying to throw everything into the recycling bin, but think twice, I know I will. 


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