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Recycling needs to be everyone’s priority

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Imagine waking up, getting ready for your day and heading out the door to find plastic everywhere outside.

You must walk through it to get to your vehicle. You drive through it every day. A sea of plastic products coating the land as far as the eye can see.

This is already a reality for some countries, one that has the potential of spreading to the U.S.

Plastic is killing everything. It can contain dioxins, a known cancer-causing agent, that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. It causes endangered animals to wash up on shores across the country and die. It is destroying our oceans.

Around 80 percent of plastic waste in the oceans originates on land, and recycling rates of just 9 percent of plastic in the U.S. recycled, according to the EPA,” writer Kieron Monks said in an article for CNN.

Eighty percent is a number that we must bring down by being more environmentally conscious. The changes do not have to be life-altering — something like everyone turning off their lights at the same time every year will do. It can even be as simple as switching product brands that are eco-friendly or recycling the correct products.

The U.N. estimated that plastic causes $13 billion in damage to marine life each year. This not only affects the animals, but also their environment. We are to blame for this.

Although some have stepped up, more of us need to do the same before whole species disappear because of our negligence.

“Around 8 million tons of plastic enter the marine environment each year, and the figure is set to rise. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 311 million tons of plastic were produced in 2014, which will double within 20 years, and projects that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050,” Monks said.

It may seem impossible to have more plastic in the ocean than fish, yet that is what we are heading toward. People joke about having to find a different planet to live on, but the effects of humans on Earth cannot be ignored.

Countries have tried to tackle this issue, yet they have only created more problems. In Tuvalu, an island between Hawaii and Australia, natives are living in plastic. They burn as much of it as they can, but recently doctors have discovered that two toxins — dioxins and furans — within plastic have led to cancer and tumors.

Houston is working with Strategic Materials, the nation’s largest glass recycling company, since June to remove glass from landfills. The decision relieved concerns of many when, back in March, Houston’s City Council decided to rid glass as a recyclable material to deal with budget deficits.

Hundreds of recycling initiatives exist nationally and globally, but those companies need our help to save our planet. Learn what products can be recycled and where. Fund recycling companies. Vote for bills that support going green.

If we all do something, we can change the statistics and save all lifeforms on Earth.

Opinion columnist Crystal Rose is a corporate communications senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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