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  • Writer's pictureSoma International

Reuse, Recycle, Reach Out

Reusing items isn’t an uncommon practice. We do so everyday with dishes and clothing. The question is: why don’t we do the same with items such as books and educational aids like computers and tablets? The answer is that we do, but our current methods could be improved.

Most people can recognize that textbooks are reused often, since they are necessary for classes but expensive to buy. Most schools opt to buy them in bulk one year and then use them for a decade. However this practice is becoming obsolete, like the textbooks’ information. In this digital age, more people are choosing to buy virtual copies despite the nonexistent resale value. School-bought texts go unused and are eventually discarded for lack of relevance. According to studies, about 640,000 tons of books are discarded annually. This is an exceedingly large number that could be downsized instead of adding to the total waste that we struggle to contain year to year. We simply need to be more educated on recycling, as on average, 37% of people in K-12 institutions are unsure of how to manage textbook disposal.

For computers, it is difficult to recycle them since they are usually only discarded when they stop functioning. This is a dangerous practice that can result in spending way more than simply fixing the issues. Another cause of waste/issue is the increasing demand for whatever is the newest model of technology, particularly in industrialized countries. Often this results in pawning off or selling old models, despite the value that they hold in being donated to places that need these functioning electronics.

Access to information is life-changing for those with limited resources. With such a surplus of available assets, it is the responsibility of nations to find a more sustainable way to discard unwanted resources. Thus, several countries such as the United States and China have begun research on enhanced practices that can be implemented in recycling systems so that they may better aid developing countries.

A multinational group that focuses on donating computers specifically to low-income countries (Computers 4 Africa) helps high-income countries dump their electronic waste. The group’s goal focuses on decreasing material and profit waste. The people who need these materials receive these electronics, the people who are discarding the materials lessen the waste they create, and overall, the outcome is better for the environment. When we recycle items so that others may use them, everyone benefits from the outcome.

Two responsibilities for the global community come to mind: one, conservation must be a priority, and two, excess resources should be shared and utilized by all nations. In Soma International’s case, the organization promotes recycling by accepting donations in the form of books and electronics. These donations are then shipped to Soma’s learning centers, where they are utilized by students and teachers. Often these donations are done through book drives that the organization hosts. Next time you do some spring cleaning, instead of holding a yard sale, consider donating to your nearest charity or GoodWill. You never know how much this could help someone in need. In supporting one another, we create a better environment with which we can thrive in, continuing to preserve the earth we live on as a collective human race.

Knowledge is boundless

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Written by: A Deomano

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