When you throw something away, do you take a moment to consider if it can be recycled?
Often, when you have only a handful of things to recycle it can seem like it isn’t worth the effort to hunt down a recycling can, and instead, recyclable items are thrown in the trash.
You may know that recycling is good for the environment, but what exactly does that mean?
Recycling reduces the size of our landfills
One of the most immediate benefits of recycling is to reduce the size of our country’s landfills.
Landfill usage peaked in the 1980sof when Americans sent almost 150 million tons of garbage to landfills each year. Today, we still dump more than 100 million tons of trash into landfills annually. (1)
Statistics from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that in 2009, the amount of trash sent to landfills nationwide averaged nearly three pounds daily, per person, in contrast to about one, and one-half pounds of materials recycled. (2)
According to the national recycling coalition, “recycling and composting diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000, up from 34 million tons in 1990- doubling in just10 years.” (3)
Recycling conserves our natural resources
The whole concept for recycling is that you can do it over and over again with the same materials. This means more resources will not be needed to create more of the same product.
According to the national institutes of health, “Recycling saves non-renewable
resources. For example, by not recycling paper, 80% more wood will need to be
harvested by 2010 to meet growing paper consumption demands. However,
through active paper recycling, only 20% more wood will need to be harvested by
Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees. (5)
Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions are a major contributing force behind climate change, which is causing our planet’s temperature to rise, and will in turn cause all kinds of environmental and atmospheric consequences, such as melting ice caps, and increased incidents of hurricanes, and flooding.
Recycling benefits the air and water by creating a net reduction in ten major categories of air pollutants, and eight major categories of water pollutants.
In the U.S., processing minerals contributes almost half of all reported toxic emissions from industry, sending 1.5 million tons of pollution into the air and water each year. Recycling can significantly reduce these emissions. (6)
The EPA reports that in 2009, 25 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were eliminated through recycling more than 7 million tons of metals, equal to taking almost 5 million cars off the road in a single year. (7)
Recycling is important to future generations
What we do now will affect our children for generations. Not only will you be able to leave a cleaner planet for them, you will be setting a great example.
How to get started
Getting started is easy. Here are a few steps:
- Join a recycling program – make sure you are connected to your city’s recycling pick up program, and find out which items are acceptable, such are paper, metal, or glass.
- Find local drop off recycling bins. For other items, such as clothing, scrap fabric, or electronics you may have to drop off your recyclables in an approved location. You can often find drop off recycling bins in the parking lot of your local library, or at your local landfill.
- Set up designated recycling bins inside your home, and at work, to make recycling as easy as throwing away trash.
- Reuse items at home. One of the simplest ways to recycle is to simply reuse items at home, such as plastic food containers and grocery bags.
- Buy recycled goods. Buying recycled goods assures that the cycle can complete itself. Look for the recycled label on items you buy.
Recycling can help make our planet better for everyone.
Every little bit counts!
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