As an Eagle Scout and an avid runner, I am passionate about the environment. My family has never been able to afford a trip to Hawaii or Europe, so most of my vacations growing up were simple camping trips.

Cleaning up litter at camping grounds and learning how to help precious endangered species have always been priorities for me, and one excellent way to accomplish these is embracing recycling. Despite the difficulties of learning what can be recycled and how to begin recycling as well as the cumbersome nature of poorly managed or financed recycling programs, New Mexicans must embrace the recycling of plastics in order to preserve the environment for the next generation.

Recycling is necessary because of how it prevents the pollution of local watersheds and stops the buildup of hazardous litter that threatens New Mexico’s plant and animal species.

According to the The Watershed Institute, plastics left in landfills or as litter can leech toxic compounds into waterways and ruin the water quality. So while regular waste elimination practices fail to work for plastics, recycling is a fantastic and sustainable alternative to giant trash piles threatening to contaminate the state’s rivers and acequias. Even though up-to-date and properly managed landfills also stop water and soil pollution, recycling will ensure our natural resources stay clean and usable for the future in a sustainable and efficient manner.

Plastic recycling also could have a major impact on protecting New Mexico’s plant and animal life. A waste management guide produced jointly by two East Coast-based organizations, the National Association of Convenience Stores and Keep America Beautiful, which support community efforts to beautify the environment, states that correctly maintained recycling and trash bins will discourage littering.

As previously mentioned, plastic litter can seep destructive toxins into the dirt and severely harm plants as well as harm unknowing animals who ingest or are caught in plastic trash. The prospect of recycling will encourage us to take action and minimize our poisonous litter production — saving our wildlife. Although educating ourselves about recycling and limiting trash and litter production will be difficult, taking these sustainable actions to help our incredible plants and animals thrive for the next generation is far more important than a minor inconvenience.

As New Mexican citizens, we must contact our legislators, who have a crucial role in stopping the destruction of the environment caused by plastics. The Legislature must discuss creating a statewide program for the collection of plastic recyclables and the refining of plastics into usable materials. This would allow for sustainable waste disposal, as well as provide reliable jobs for many who are unemployed (for example, workers who were laid off because of the pandemic).

Such a program also offers the extra benefit of protecting the state’s outdoor beauty — a critical selling point for New Mexico tourism. All of us can help preserve the environment, too, by simply recycling and being mindful with our waste. Together, we can manage our trash sustainably and keep the environment clean for our children.

Keith Bridge attends Los Alamos High School and has been a New Mexico resident for 10 years.

(2) comments

Mike Johnson

Interesting, seems the left wing would dispute this, and blame big oil for yet another deception around it.......

Sunday Tidwell

Well written, Keith. Each of us can make a difference.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.