Throw Back a Tree

Last week I relayed the starfish parable. If you aren’t familiar with it follow that link, it is a very short story, but a meaningful parable.

This week I would like to link the main concept of the starfish parable to another area I find interesting, sustainability. The three big R’s:

Image result for reduce reuse recycle

Much like the beach covered in thousands of starfish, the amount of trash and pollution in the world around us can be overwhelming when taken in all at once. This overwhelming of our senses is many times enough to prevent us from taking meaningful steps toward helping nature heal. I am thankful the great city of Grand Rapids has a stellar recycling facility. I also feel fortunate the school I teach at has started recycling paper, plastic, cans, and glass bottles.

Having the physical recycling bins available in our classrooms has really helped students see the ease of separating out recyclable material from trash. Each week the bins are collected and sent to the proper recycling channels. A good visual for how quickly small actions to recycle add up, we took some statistics from the Conservatree organization that states, “each ton (2000 pounds) of printer paper uses 24 trees”. Therefore, each tree accounts for almost 83 pounds of paper. This 24 tree number is a rough estimate, but when you start adding any double digit number of trees harvested, it adds up fast.

Every week at school each hallway collects around 100 pounds of paper. This ends up being 400+ pounds of paper being sent off to be recycled and used in place of harvesting a fresh tree. This means each week 4-5 less trees are being harvested from the ecosystem! This stuff excites me!!! Such small changes can add up so quickly. And this is just the paper, not to mention the other materials.

As mentioned previously Grand Rapids has a great single-stream recycling program. Every other week our 64 gallon recycling bin is brimming with materials ready to sort and recycle. When we visit other cities who simply throw recyclables away I get sick thinking of how quickly that trash accumulates.

Every piece we can recycle instead of trash adds up. Will recycling one plastic bottle save the planet? No. Will thousands of bottles recycled help patch destruction we have caused? Likely. Will changing the habit of trashing plastic into recycling plastic have a meaningful impact on our Earth’s future? Absolutely!

Big changes are the result of small changes happening steadily over time. Please take an extra split second before you throw something away to see if it can be recycled and help make a meaningful difference in our world. Peace.



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