Upon arriving home to Irvine for my short break between finals and summer school I was immediately shocked by the change in weather. In Davis, where I go to school in northern California, there is a steady amount of rainfall throughout a large portion of the year. However, down south in Orange County, people are largely dependent on sprinkler systems to keep lawns green and flowers blooming.
Not only is the focus on green lawns important enough to have sprinklers throughout the area, but these sprinklers are often wasting water. In my neighborhood alone I have seen that many of these sprinkler systems have excess water flowing down into the storm drains. The water flowing down is often polluted with pesticides and then ends up in the ocean. And although the water used in public areas is often recycled water, it still makes me question the priorities in the area.
I also began to notice the shocking lack of recycling cans available. In Davis, wherever there is a public trashcan, there is also a place to recycle paper and plastic. In Irvine, there is not as much public recycling available, so people often throw away paper and plastic.
From there I began to consider recycling throughout the country. Recycling seems like such a basic way to be environmental and yet, depending on the area in which you live, it can be much more difficult or inconvenient to recycle. In a college town like Davis, it seems so easy that you would choose to recycle. However, if someone has to drive out to a recycling facility or even pay to recycle, would one be so eager? At what point should the line be drawn? If you're driving to recycle, how much gas should you use on the way to recycle a bag of aluminum cans? Is it fair that in some states you are fined for not recycling but in others you must pay to recycle? And there are the claims that recycling uses more energy than simply creating new products, and that recycling is not worth it.
All of these questions and issues are ones that I cannot answer or by any means solve. However, I consider myself to be both lucky and grateful to have to step only a few steps from my house to recycle and have it readily available throughout my college campus.