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Recycling easiest way to save economy

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blue recycling bins, stealth bombers, gas-sipping cars and M-16s all have the potential to be used for the same purpose: protecting America’s interests and making her a stronger country. We all know the same familiar story of high energy prices due to our dependent addiction to foreign oil, and the typical Washington response: Do nothing.

While those of us back in the real world wait around for our gridlocked leaders not to solve our energy problems as we helplessly watch billions of dollars get sent abroad in return for some black sludge, there is something that we can do both to help our economy and strengthen the relative position of our beautiful country in this dangerous world. And the answer is easier than you think. Recycle, recycle, recycle.

This may seem like a crazy thing for a relatively conservative Republican to say, as we Republicans seem to have a bad reputation on environmental issues. But trust me, in recycling I can find almost as much agreement with a crazy hippie environmentalist than my stomach finds with a 3 a.m. Taco Bell run.

Recycling serves a multitude of goals, the most obvious being its environmental benefits, but also including economic and security benefits of great proportions for us in terms of more jobs, cheaper sources of materials and, most importantly, less foreign borrowing from China to pay for the greatest wealth transfer in history to hostile and questionable nations like Venezuela, Iran, Russia, … actually almost every country we get our oil from.

You may think I’m crazy, but hear me out. In America, we buy over $700 billion of foreign oil every year. While much of this is refined to make gasoline, a lot is also used to make the plastic that we use and throw away everyday. Recycled plastic saves 70 percent on energy costs, creates jobs through its collection and reprocessing and replaces oil that we import from dangerous places with a source that is already here. And this is all in addition to the fact that the plastic doesn’t end up taking up space in a landfill somewhere in New Jersey or chilling out on the Pacific coast with some sea otters.

While I can understand if you don’t like people from New Jersey, you can’t possibly hate on cute sea otters. By reducing the amount of oil we use in plastic production, our gas will cost less, the American economy will benefit from the recycling industry’s growth. Also the national transfer of our money to countries who hate us and sponsor terrorism with oil revenues will be lowered as we pay more Americans to produce plastic with resources we already have here at home.

Increased recycling should not be limited to plastic, however. It pains me when I see bag after bag after bag of Natty cans mixed in with the trash in dorm bathrooms every Sunday after the parties are over. Besides the gross fact that people were drinking Nasty Lite, it costs 95 percent less to produce aluminum from recycled cans than from virgin sources. That is a ridiculous margin, yet I see cans in the trash all the time. I could lament the waste and inefficiency for days and still be upset.

When it costs 1.43 cents to make a penny, you know that raw material prices are ridiculously high, but in America we still throw everything away.

People of Notre Dame, as good citizens of your country and your world, try to make a difference this year. While your contribution may not seem like much, and while recycling obviously won’t totally solve our energy problems, together we can have a large impact.

So stop being a lazy slob and dedicate a separate trash can to beer cans next weekend so that you can recycle them. When you are walking out the door of a DeBartolo classroom, resist the temptation to throw your soda bottle in the little tan trash can by the door and hold onto it for another ten seconds so you can put it into the recycling bin on your way out of the building. And don’t accept that stupid little plastic bag from the cashier at Subway when you are just going to walk 15 steps to a booth, sit down and eat it within site of the ugly yellow sign anyway.

Just try to make a small conscious effort to recycle throughout the course of your daily life. I don’t care if you do it for Captain Planet, Uncle Sam, John Doe, Our Lady or Jesus Christ himself, but just spend the extra two seconds to recycle your aluminum, paper and plastic each day.

Collectively we will save ourselves money at the store and at the pump, help other Americans by creating jobs, and help protect the country that we so dearly love from foreign sponsored terrorism and other threats, just as she protects us and our freedoms with constant vigilance, every single day.

Stephen Bant


off campus

Sept. 15