Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of MRW, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Comment: The miracle of recycling

I was once lucky enough to interview the writer Bill Bryson just after he had published his book A Short History of Nearly Everything.

He told me how at school he used to hate science lessons, but like many of us (me included), in later life we start to really find it interesting.

To illustrate his point, he told me a really fascinating fact.

The Universe is a closed-loop system. So, since the beginning of time, every molecule that has ever existed, still exists and was created at the time of the Big Bang.

However, molecules over time will change their grouping and become something else. In effect, they are recycled.

The amazing thing is that molecules are so numerous that each and every one of us contains around about 1,000 molecules that once belonged to Shakespeare, Einstein, Churchill and every single person that ever lived and has now died.

This is nature recycling itself to create something new.

But, when we drink from a can, a glass or plastic bottle, we also consume a few molecules from the vessel that then become part of us.

And when we kiss someone, we take some of their molecules and they become part of us too.

Each and everyone of us is swapping molecules all the time as our skin regenerates and we lose bits, as our hair falls out and re-grows (or not in some cases!), and when we touch food and drink.

It is amazing to think that everything we know, love, hate and expect is all created from stardust at the beginning of time - that includes you.

So in this industry, we are following the pattern of nature. We take objects, recycle them and turn them into something new. In effect, we are using those molecules and adjusting them to create a new product.

And that is a pretty cool thing.

My challenge to everyone reading this, is to go out there and tell one person how fantastic recycling is. When you think about it, recycling is something that should amaze and inspire. Just like the desire of the medieval alchemists to turn base metals into gold, this industry takes a product and turns it into something new.

And that is because there are people in this industry, unfortunately unlike me, who were inspired at school by science. They decided they wanted to be engineers, chemists, physicists, biologists and metallurgists among many other roles.

Children these days are much more environmentally savvy than even my relatively young generation. I hope that as an industry, we can find ways to show that the science and practice of recycling is a wondrous thing, and therefore inspire the next generation to take the recycling of our universe to a whole new level.

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.