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Splitting the waste and learning to recycle

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Ever since I was a little girl, I remember hearing my parents saying that the rubbish goes to the trash can.

“Don’t throw the garbage in the streets. It’s wrong and impolite,” my mother used to say repeatedly.

And so I did. I forced myself to apply their rules, and every time someone would throw a bag of chips from their car to the highway, the only thought that crossed my mind was how impolite that person was. How could they be so rude?

Over the years, I learned about recycling and that people could reuse, separate garbage by materials and recycle as much as they could. 

Be Mindful: In the U.S., we're often given more than we can use. Be smart and recycle your excess so that it can be reused elsewhere. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Be Mindful: In the U.S., we’re often given more than we can use. Be smart and recycle your excess so that it can be reused elsewhere. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

To be honest, it wasn’t a discovery. In my country, the Dominican Republic, we’re used to making profit off everything we have. It’s not weird to see someone using a plastic container to plant a small tree or even adorn a cement wall with broken glass.

To put it simply, recycling was something meaningless for me and I didn’t think about it every time I used a plastic bottle or plastic bag for my groceries.

That changed when I arrived in the United States. I saw so many recycling options in my new city and university, but everywhere I turned, there was so much waste everywhere.

On my island, I wasn’t able to see a lot of “waste,” it was just garbage. But in the United States, multiple things seemed exaggerated.

This society generates too much trash. A fast food worker will give you a lot of napkins. In the supermarket, the packing guy gives you more plastic bags than you can use on any occasion. We have to turn around and throw the extras away.

That was the reason I started recycling. I wanted to make a change and not contribute to the waste culture that threatens to affect us all. I wanted to have a better place to live, and that’s why I started to look for information on how to recycle, on what’s the climate change and how leaving a healthier life can help the planet in a longer term.

Nowadays, I still need to improve. In fact, everybody needs to do it. It’s not hard to separate your plastics from your papers and take them to a recycling facility. If you don’t have recycling options near you, it’s always possible to get a little creative and reuse as much as you can.

Despite the hundreds of millions spent every year on recycling, this method will work if everyone starts to separate waste. If we learned as children to make the separation from home and we had it as a daily routine, it would become a part of who we are, and it wouldn’t be so hard to do it as adults.

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