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Every time you recycle your unwanted items instead of putting them in the bin, you’re helping everyone in the world.
How can that be?
The person who acquires your old necklace, for example, will get the pleasure of wearing it. That might make you feel good but it’s only the beginning.
Think of all the countries in the world where our most precious jewels and metals come from – diamonds, gold… Then remember that so many of those countries are in a very troubled state.
Wars in Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone were all funded on the back of diamonds. Gold mines in South America continue to release toxic chemicals into precious rain forests while exploiting local labour horrifically.
It’s called the Natural Resource Curse* and it means that sheer greed among the powerful leads to oppression of the majority of ordinary citizens in such countries. We fuel the demand whenever we buy new.
Recycling means that we don’t need to draw on more natural resources and we don’t go on supporting such regimes.
So, recycling has an impact on some of the poorest people in the world but it also affects the planet on which we all depend. Every time we put something in the bin, it ends up on a landfill site somewhere down the road from where we live. One of these days, all suitable sites will be full. The more we throw away, the sooner that day will come.
Recycling is such an obvious thing to do, and it’s so easy.
What are you waiting for?
More reasons to recycle
Recycling reduces the demand for raw materials. This means less mining and quarrying. Many parts of the world have been blighted by mining and quarrying, which destroy the natural environment and wildlife habitats and can cause environmental and health problems for local people. Recycling is one way in which our community can lessen their usage of resources and help protect the environment.
It may not be making the news headlines but a battle is raging between indigenous peoples and government-backed industries wanting to exploit natural resources for mining, oil, logging and minerals in Africa, Latin America, Asia and North America.
Some of the flashpoints around the world (Vidal, 2009):
Arizona - The Navajo nation is fighting uranium mining through the US courts. Radiation levels are 450 times the normal levels.
Botswana - The Bushmen of the Kalahari desert have been progressively pushed out of their traditional lands by the state to make way for mining.
Brazil, Paraguay, Peru - Five ‘uncontacted’ tribes living deep in the forests in these countries are at risk of extinction as oil companies, colonists and loggers invade their territory, says Survival International.
Canada - The giant oil tar fields in Alberta are some of the most polluting in the world, and will stretch over thousands of square kilometres. They are the centre of a legal battle between oil companies and the Beaver Lake Cree nation and other indigenous groups.
Colombia - Oil companies are moving into the western Amazon and prospecting indigenous land. Tribes are caught in the crossfire of a civil war between the state and guerillas.
Congo - Pygmy groups in the rainforest are threatened by logging and mining companies.
Guatemala - Thousands of indigenous people have been forced to move to make way for giant dams and other developments. Indigenous leaders are regularly faced with threats of assassination by the authorities. Death squads have re-emerged.
Indonesia - Palm oil companies in Sumatra have been expanding into the forests and grabbing land from indigenous communities. This, says Oxfam, is leading to conflict and more poverty.
Kenya - The indigenous Ogiek people who have lived for centuries in the Mau forest are being forced out to make way for logging, paper and tea companies.
Nigeria - The oil producing Niger Delta which accounts for 4% of the entire world’s oil is now heavily militarised as ethnic militia groups resort to kidnapping and violence in response to generations in abject poverty.
Philippines - Tribal lands are being militarised and repression of indigenous groups is increasing as giant coal, gold and copper mines destroy traditional water sources and fields.
West Papua - Companies have dug around $100bn of copper and gold from West Papua in 40 years, but while the Indonesian government has richly benefited, local tribes have been dispossessed of land and livelihoods.
“I have never seen anything so systematically destructive. The environmental effects are catastrophic as are the effects on people’s livelihoods. They take the tops off mountains, which are holy, they destroy the water sources and make it impossible to farm” - Clare Short MP, Chair of the Working Group on Mining in the Philippines
“An aggressive drive is taking place to extract the last remaining resources from indigenous territories. There is a crisis of human rights. There are more and more arrests, killings and abuses. This is happening in Russia, Canada, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Amazon, all over Latin America, Papua New Guinea and Africa. It is global. We are seeing a human rights emergency. A battle is taking place for natural resources everywhere.” - Victoria Tauli-Corpus, Chair of UN permanent forum on indigenous issues
It is vital that we all minimise our reliance on new resources so as to put these industries out of business before they can do more harm. Remember the mantra:
"Reduce – Re-use – Recycle"
Recycle and let your supporters turn their unwanted items into donations for you!
This information comes from an article by John Vidal published in The Guardian on 13 June 2009, ‘We are fighting for our lives and our dignity’.
For more detail, try Joseph E. Stiglitz’s book, Making Globalization Work: The Next Steps to Global Justice (Penguin, 2006).
Further information is available from campaigning groups such as:
* “The Resource Curse” was first coined by Richard M. Auty in Sustaining Development in Mineral Economies: The Resource Curse Thesis (Routledge, 1993). You can find out more from Joseph E. Stiglitz’s book, Making Globalization Work: The Next Steps to Global Justice (Penguin, 2006) and from campaigning groups such as Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. Your local council should be able to answer questions about recycling and waste in your area and WRAP (the Waste and Resource Action Programme) can also provide you with information.