A yellow leaf clings to the branch with its last vestige of strength. It won’t be there much longer. And sure enough, with the next gust of wind, it gently floats to the ground.
Once fallen to the ground, the leaf will undergo decomposition by an army of bacteria and fungi that will ensure that any nutrients still left in the leaf are absorbed and redistributed into the soil. This is recycling at its finest, and nature, once again is source of inspiration.
With all organic matter undergoing decomposition and decay, nutrients can be repurposed to support another life system. Consider mushrooms that grow on dead tree trunks. They thrive from absorbing the remaining nutrients from the bark. Similarly, fallen logs in forests are known to support new growth.
Seeing these processes in action, it begs the question: why aren’t non-biodegradable materials created such that they break down into further basic components that can naturally decompose?
Sure, certain industries treat wastewater, which is then broken down in Waste Stabilization Ponds, but this is not followed by enough industries. Such technology should be supported and applied to factories and industries across the world.
While not every country has the capacity or resources to afford high-technology methodologies to ensure proper recycling, a global agreement, not unlike the Paris Accord, could be considered to share the load of recycling and ensure that everyone has access to the best technology.
With current practices of trash being shipped to countries that often have lax recycling rules, we are only compounding, rather than resolving, the problem.
Research and science has made progress and a concerted effort should be to solve the matter of garbage around the world – in order to make recycling a norm, rather than an effort.
It is not enough for us to criticise governments and industries. The onus is on individuals like you and I, to recycle in our own homes and neighbourhoods, and encourage others to do so. Every bit matters!