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Why Is Recycling So Important?

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Recycling symbol on bottleThere’s plenty of facts out there on why recycling is important. The world population is growing, not shrinking, and currently each human being adds significant waste to the planet over his or her lifetime. In New York alone, people produce enough trash in one day to fill the entire Empire State building. The frustrating thing is, in most developed countries it’s not all too difficult to make a difference. And what a difference we can make. If everyone repurposed their copy of a single edition of The New York Times, we could save 75,000 trees.

What Exactly Is Recycling?

Recycling basically involves turning used materials that are labeled as recyclable over to your local waste facility designated in a disposal container as “recyclable” materials to be taken and reused as material for a new purpose. A recyclable product is turned back into a raw form that can be used to create a new and different product. Not only are natural resources limited, but recycling efforts can significantly reduce additional waste that will not only harm the planet today, but future generations as well. The natural resources on our planet earth are limited so we must make the most to conserve, recycle and reuse whenever possible.

What Can I Recycle?

What you can recycle depends on your area, not all materials may be recyclable. Check with your local recycle center to find out what you can and cannot recycle. You’ll notice that recyclable products are labeled with numbers from 1 to 7, 1 being the most recyclable, and 7 being the least recyclable. Also check with your city to make sure that you have the correct disposal containers available to ensure your efforts are being put to good use and heading to the recycling center rather than the landfill you are working so hard to avoid!

Purchase Products Made from Recycled Materials

Trash floating in waterYou’re no doubt aware by now why this is so important. However, the effort involves not only recycling existing products, but purchasing products that have already been recycled. Today, thanks to a strong push in the green movement recently, you’ll notice more and more products made from recycled materials. To purchase products made from reused materials, simply look for a recycling symbol and language on the product’s packaging. Every day manufacturers are finding new ways to create items that are recyclable including paper towels, cardboard boxes, plastic containers, crayons, ink cartridges, paint, garden supplies such as hoses, furniture, wallpaper, and even garbage cans. And don’t forget the packaging. It is often too big for the product inside and uses non-recycled materials. This is wasteful and should be minimized as well when making a purchase decision. Voting with your wallet is one of the best ways to make an impact while sending a clear message to the companies that make these products as to your desire for more attention to recycle-friendly products.

Ways to Reduce the Amount of Trash You Create

Another way to help the planet is to simply cut down on the amount of non-recyclable materials you throw out. What’s a good way to do this?

  1. One of the most effective ways to help us to bring your own reusable bag to purchase groceries. If you forget, insist on paper, and pack as many goods in one bag as possible, without double bagging.
  2. Try to reduce the amount of packaging you purchase by buying products in bulk.
  3. Have any paper statements that are normally mailed to you – such as bills, financial statements, newsletters, etc. – e-mailed to you instead.
  4. Buy products that are packaged in cardboard or paper board instead of Styrofoam.
  5. Try to avoid disposable items such as paper plates, cups, and utensils.
  6. When wrapping presents, opt for reusable gift bags instead of wrapping paper – or maybe even reuse wrapping paper.

Composting is another way to reduce trash

Composting is the simple step of setting aside your fruit peals and pits along with other food waste that does not contain oils or meat and then putting it into a compost pile. This will not only create a much cleaner smelling kitchen but also produce great nutrients for your garden.

Read more about Composting Bins

Most Waste Can Be Minimized

Every day we use a variety of products in our households and work places to fulfill our basic needs. Most of these products and their packaging are wasted and dumped in bins, which end up in land fill sites. We ignore the fact that a major portion of our waste can be recycled or reused. It would also be very responsible of us, if we could reduce the consumption of products to the maximum extent possible. So, the three R’s of sustainability are Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

The Three R’s of Sustainability – Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle

Recycling things involves using a product, in part or as a whole, in the production of similar or same products again. In regular production, the use of raw materials is sourced directly from natural resources. For example, fresh pulp for which trees have to be cut down is used to create first generation paper. Recycled paper can very well be used in producing new paper without vastly compromising the quality of the final product.

The same applies to most products like metal, glass and plastics. The energy saved due to use of recycled materials also adds up to overall savings. Therefore, it is only a matter of choice and attitude towards protecting and enriching the environment we live in. We have to consider the fact that demand drives the supply and controlling demand can lead to reduced exploitation of natural resources.

Why Recycling is Important

There are many good reasons for adding recycling to your routine, ranging from a personal level to a global advantage.

Recycling your waste makes you more responsible in the way you use and dispose of it. It is evident from studies that people who do this instinctively cut down on buying unwanted things from the supermarket. They think of how to dispose of the packaging or the product after use before even buying it. As a result, people end up saving a considerable amount of money while also saving the planet.

Individuals, governing bodies and companies can take pride in minimizing their waste as they are helping to reduce global environmental damage and making this earth a better place on which to live. It is a direct contribution that every one can take price in.

Recycling Creates Jobs

Apart from the environmental benefits, think of the employment that it can generate. When you put your waste in different bins for paper, plastics, glass and so on, the contents of each are further segregated and taken to recycling plants. The man power involved in the logistics and processing of your waste is considerable and thus you are helping to keep them in jobs and aid in welfare of their families. What could be more appropriate in tough economic times as now to create and keep people employed?

The danger of global climate change has forced us to take drastic measures to cut down on pollution levels to slow down if not eradicate this phenomenon. In view of this, ambitious but necessary targets for recycling are also being set by governments around the world.

To meet these targets, more and more people must take action regularly. As a result, the amount of waste reaching the landfill sites is reduced and the quantity of land fill sites is reduced. Hence better land use for other constructive purposes is ensured.

Trash Creates Pollution

Incineration of waste from land fill sites is a common way of destruction of waste. But we have to remind ourselves of the emissions that result from the incineration. Some times the heat generated is used to generate electrical power (waste to energy plants) to offset the damage and minimize the carbon footprint.

Even though this sounds positive, there are concerns about the type of waste being incinerated and if it has any toxic effects on the surrounding areas.

You are Paying for Your Own Waste

Landfill sites are taxed and there are fines for exceeding limits of disposal at one time in many regions. Such costs are passed onto the taxpayer. An example of this pass-through tax would be increased city council taxes. Recycling minimizes these additional landfill costs to a great extent.

Some Recycling Facts

Studies have shown that:

  • More than 60% of the rubbish that ends up in trash bins can be recycled.
  • Around 16% of the cost of a product is spent on its packaging which is completely wasted if not disposed of properly.
  • 80% of a vehicle can be recycled.
  • Aluminum cans can be recycled completely and put to use in a short time.
  • Thousands of glass jars and bottles are thrown away everyday.
  • Glass can be recycled 100% and reused.
  • Glass products which end up in landfills do not decompose at all.
  • It has been observed that 24 trees are cut down to make one ton of paper.
    • On the contrary, recycled paper is proved to create 70% less pollution compared to normal non-recycled material paper production.
  • Plastics, which can often be recycled, take around 500 years to decompose.
  • One recycled tin can saves enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
  • 70% less energy is utilized to recycle paper compared to making it from raw materials.
  • Similarly when you recycle one glass bottle, it can save enough energy to power a personal computer for 25 minutes.

Recycling Helps Build Communities

That is not all of the advantages of recycling. Many charities and community groups raise money through reusing and recycling goods. Your city has many charity shops (like Goodwill and the Salvation Army) that will take your unwanted clothes, electronics, furniture and other household items to resell as income for these non-profit organizations and these donations are also tax deductible for you. Other not-for-profit charities can be found who will pass such clothing and other items onto underdeveloped communities around the globe. So, think of the people in need in your local community and in other nations before you shove off all those unused or unwanted stuff into the trashcan next time.

Recycling Reduces Toxic E-Waste

Spruce trees in forestWhen we talk about recycling household and work place things, we tend to ignore or are less aware of how to deal with the electrical and electronic waste (sometimes called e-waste). E-waste is valuable as a source of secondary raw material but also toxic if disposed of improperly. Due to rapid technology change, obsolescent items have created a fast growing mass of electronic waste around the globe.

In order to reduce this, working TVs, monitors, computers, cell phones, batteries  and other consumer electronics can be sold or donated, thereby prolonging their useful life. Some new regulations, for example, the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive in the European Union makes businesses, manufacturers and retailers of electrical and electronics equipment responsible for making sure their goods do not end up in landfill or incineration, where the toxic chemicals, metals and associated solders, glues and plastics can cause both environmental and health problems. Repurposing electronic equipment involves dismantling of parts into metals, plastics and so on and individually processing them depending on the available technology.

In view of reducing environmental pollution and cutting down energy consumption, recycling is an important step to undertake. A sustainable lifestyle is the need of the times and we can very well adopt such beneficial changes in our daily life.

One Man’s Waste Can be Another Man’s Treasure

Hopefully this article has helped you realize just how important your efforts are. Not just to us, but to our kids, grand kids, and anyone that follows in our footsteps. Take care of your planet, and it will take care of you.

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Alex loves nature and does his best to take care of the planet. He doesn't take for granted the serenity that can be found in the stillness of an ancient forest, or the majestic power of the ocean's large waves as they crash on an isolated island shoreline. He wants to raise awareness for how simple it can be to make a couple changes in your everyday life that can make a huge difference for the environment in the long term.
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68 Comments on "Why Is Recycling So Important?"

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Regina Smith
Regina Smith

Thanks to this article, I can present before 18 students. This is the best article ever! You helped my presentation!!

Sadie Cornelius
Admin
Sadie Cornelius

Regina, so glad to hear we were able to help with your presentation – thanks for reading!

SWARNA
SWARNA

I think so that it will help in my science project.

Ruhhan
Ruhhan

Recycling Is good for the environment.

Mahabub
Mahabub

Very nice

love
love

Everyone is so right on this, I just wanted to know if this can help my project…any tips?

bob

Recycling for the win!

DONKEYBURRO
DONKEYBURRO

You know those milk cartons we drink in the cafeteria in school? Well, maybe it was reused from a milk carton YOU drank from before!

DONKEYBURRO
DONKEYBURRO

Recycling is very useful and helpful :)! All of us should recycle, that way we won’t waste any precious products!

yum

recycling is <3

Sadie Cornelius
Admin
Sadie Cornelius

Yes indeed we agree it is, thanks! 🙂

Hello
Hello

Hurraaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!

hi

good.

michel
michel

Animals can die from the cans and plastic bottles.

donesha
donesha

I know right? And some animals won’t have no place to go.

ALYSSA
ALYSSA

WE SHOULD RECYCLE

anony
anony

very good

Shi Man
Shi Man

Yup, but a little bit long.

Anonymous
Anonymous

There is a song about recycling called Reduce, Reuse, Recycle on the 2011 Eco Music Challenge by Sold Out Lies. You may want to check it out.

Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
There are a number of things that people blow off because they feel they have more important things to do. Recycling is one of those things. Everyone understands how important recycling is for the environment, yet many aren’t willing to put in the extra effort to save their own planet. I’ll admit that even I have fallen off the wagon when it comes to recycling. I started out strong, but soon let it slide. This weekend, I’d like to purchase a bin that makes it easier to recycle. I think one of my major problems is that I don’t have… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
When I started reading this, I was like, whoa, whoa. First off, I did not realize that the world’s population was increasing. I really did not. That is a scary fact. I don’t know why I didn’t realize this, actually I do. I did hear that the population in China and other countries in Asia was growing and that the governments in those countries were doing things to control the population like making birth control mandatory after 2 kids or something but for some reason in my mind, I thought that was the end of it for some reason, but… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
Learning to reuse items isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also a key to survival. I understand the importance of being prepared for any situation. Part of being prepared means knowing how to make the most of everything you have. If civilization crumbled tomorrow, could you make the most of the items you have on hand? Regardless if it’s a survival situation or daily life, recycling and reusing items can make a big difference to our planet. Sadly, we live in a society where people would rather throw things away than try to reuse them. I believe everything has… Read more »
an environmentally conscious drifter
an environmentally conscious drifter

I am looking for a company that can turn plastic bottles and waste plastic into a foam or I would like to purchase a machine that can turn waste plastic into a foam.

pravs
pravs

it is vary useful to bulletin boards ideas.

Oakville Landscapers
Oakville Landscapers

Recycling has been a common practice for most of human history, with recorded advocates as far back. During periods when resources were scarce, archeological studies of ancient waste dumps show less household waste-implying more waste was being recycled in the absence of new material.

learnin summit new
learnin summit new
I have been doing course work for the past few weeks and it is based on how much recycling is done locally as well as nationally. I have not only discovered that the government actually does anything to reduce the amount of pollution, but I have actually realized how much the local councilors are doing to reduce the amount of household waste produced by us. What the government has actually done is that they have told the local councils to increase the amount of waste recycled to about 50% or summit or they will increase the charges everywhere to actually… Read more »
Latoya Smith
Latoya Smith

Great post. Recycling is good. Over the years I’ve ordered dozens of catalogs that were printed with less than expected quality, some being downright scrappy. A couple months ago my company in Hobe Sound FL, printed some catalogs with PCA Delta and they were great. I’ve been printing with them ever since. They show care for the environment by using soy based inks, plus recycled papers are available upon request. If you need items printed on recycled paper go to PC Delta Printing, I strongly recommend them.

Anonymous
Anonymous

You should join the friends for change program at disneychannel.com/friends for change

Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
It’s hard to break old habits. Most people were raising with one trash can in the house and everything went in there and then out to the curb or off to the dump. The idea of have four trash receptacles just seems like too much clutter. However, there are a number of systems that make it easier to store the containers so that your kitchen doesn’t look like the city dump. Personally, I love the option of adding a long console table to the kitchen and sliding three bins under it for the recyclables. You could then attach a piece… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
There was a time when people recycled everything, not to be green, but because it was necessary. Even in the South, people continue to reuse everything from butter containers to aluminum pie pans because not everyone can afford to rush out and purchase new items. For the most part though, we live in a society that prefers to throw things away without considered how they could be used for something else. People are even more likely to toss clothing that needs a simple mending than do the work themselves. It’s really a shame to see how lazy and careless people… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
Some studies and research have also shown that recycling is big business. There are a number of firms that are involved in the research and development side of recycling (in addition to those that actually start and support grass root level programs). There are even companies which help to create new products and materials from recycled materials. Some businesses are also involved in creating mechanical and chemical processes and systems to facilitate recycling. In fact, many states are able to put an actual number on the economic impact of recycling. For example, Ohio states that the recycling industry is directly… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
Recycling is an activity that is vital to the future of our planet. Aside from making things better on the environment, there are a number of additional reasons to recycle. For starters, the world population is continuing to increase (although some studies would dispute this). Each additional person added to the planet produces more and more waste that only adds to the accumulated mess already present. Recycling also simply makes sense. The whole idea is that we should take materials that have been used and convert them into a more usable form once again, instead of using up more (scarce)… Read more »
an environmentally conscious drifter
an environmentally conscious drifter

Recycling is a MUST in today’s world where everyone creates so much waste every single day. Do your part to reduce your consumption, compost as much as you can and then recycle the rest – you will be amazed as to how little trash you actually have if you truly embrace these simple steps.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Who is this written by?

Anonymous
Anonymous
I’m wondering just how effective community recycling programs really are. I know in my community, I called in and the city said I could throw any # of plastic (1-7) in the recycling bin. However, my friends are convinced the city’s machines are only able to handle #1 and #2, and something about only containers that have a top that is smaller than the bottom. Does anyone have feedback on their local recycling programs and which #’s of plastic and materials they support? If I didn’t know better, I’d think we’re all getting conned into thinking we’re recycling when really… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

Why do we have to recycle?

Anonymous
Anonymous

The reason we need to recycle is because we need to do it and protect the enviroment and not let the o-zone layer get bigger.

an environmentally conscious drifter
an environmentally conscious drifter

You are wrong…the ozone layer is getting smaller. But, we want it bigger so it blocks out the sun’s harmful rays…duh

anenvironmentalstudiesstudent
anenvironmentalstudiesstudent

I suspect they meant the hole in the ozone layer, not it’s thickness.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Recycling is something that so many people need to be aware of. There are so many different ways that you can easily recycle and do very little different in your daily life. Many communities offer recycling bins that allow you to save money on garbage bags while still helping the environment. There are so many different recycling products that are available now that will not only make your life easier but also help save the plant. There is no reason that everyone can’t do something to help.

– Dan the Gardener

Anonymous
Anonymous
First of all, great article. I can’t believe that this is even an argument for some people. Of course recycling is important. Just take a guided tour of a landfill once and you’ll see why. Or accompany a geologist on a tour of a city and have them show you what man’s impact is on the earth. I see a similarity between the “recycling doubters” and those that always argue that global warming (climate change) is cyclical. It doesn’t matter if it’s cyclical or not – maybe it is. The fact is that people, in the millions, are being displaced… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

This article is very helpful…:)

Anonymous
Anonymous
I’ve been recently wondering…what age groups care the most about the environment? Well reading this article made me start thinking. I mean the environment is huge on everyone’s mind these days. We want to be good stewards and not destroy our own planet, yet the rate things are happening is terrifying to people. At least everyone seems to be pitching in and at least doing something, but sometimes I wonder if all age groups are really going green together. I feel like I see young people into it the most, but that could just be because of my social circles.… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
Combining those who care a great deal and those who care a fair amount about the environment, the 45-54 demographic appears to be the clear winner in the percentage of concerned individuals. After that, the older age groups had the largest percentage of respondents who consider the environment to be a very important issue. However, these also had lower percentages of respondents who considered the environment a fairly important issue, and therefore the combined percentage of those who care about the environment within this demographic is comparable to the total percentages from any of the youngest age brackets. You may… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
What many people don’t realize is that many cities sort trash before it is sent to the main dump for that area. However, that doesn’t give us the excuse to toss everything in the trash. With a proper setup it takes literally minutes to sort items into recycling bins. If you do it throughout your day, it’s a piece of cake. Yet, people don’t do it. I think many people are under the misconception that everything is infinite, but it’s not. We are running through our resources and more importantly we are doing terrible things to the planet and our… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
This article really opened my eyes to the need for recycling. I admit to being somewhat lax in my efforts recently, especially when I feel tired and do not want to make the effort to sort out all my garbage. After reading only the first part about how many trees could be saved by only recycling the paper, I have been scared straight, you might say. Recycling should be a habit, rather than a special event like I was making it. I had no concept of how many resources were saved by recycling as opposed to just throwing things away,… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
When we think of recycling as a term to discuss or ponder, we tend to think of ways that we can reuse things or how we can change items from being something we would dispose of to being something that we can make use of in a different way than it was originally intended. Of course these are all great things to think about and put into action, but there is something else to consider when it comes to recycling and going green in the first place. Why not think before we buy? I live in the country and recycling… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
I completely agree with this article. Recycling is not just for the tree-hugging hippies anymore. There has been research done when it comes to recycling. Recycling is not only beneficial for our environment, recycling also creates jobs. All it took for me was one class in Environmental Science to show me that it’s good to recycle. Composting reduces the amount of trash around us. Since a good majority of what people throw away is food, shouldn’t we compost all of our food scraps to cut down on waste? All a person needs to start compost is worms, dirt and food… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
Why do we even have the option of whether or not we should recycle? If we do not recycle, we do waste. It all seems pretty simple to me when it comes right down to it. I am not one to promote government involvement in anything, but if people are not smart enough to try to take care of our planet, them maybe they do need some guidance. We reuse just about everything in my house. If we can’t use it the way it is, we modify it so it can be used in some other way. When we have… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
It seems as though a lot of people were on board with recycling for a few years, but have since lost interest. I’ll admit that it can be time-consuming to clean and sort everything so that it doesn’t smell or attract ants. However, what is more important, spending a little time on recycling or watching 30 more minutes of TV? If you want to recycle, but feel overwhelmed, start with buying three large bins to sort your recyclables into: one for plastic, one for paper, and one for glass. If you drink soda or beer, you will also want one… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
Even though almost everyone in the world thinks that recycling is important, I think that there are still a lot of people that want to do the right thing, but don’t know how to begin. The first thing that you need to do to make a change in life is motivation. I think this article is a great starter article for people to read. Like if you’re a young person, and your parents aren’t recycling or doing good for the environment, this would be a great article for them. If you’ve got a coworker that does nothing for the environment… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
The virtues of recycling have been touted for so long now it seems, that it almost goes without saying that it is a good thing to do. However, there are ways that it impacts our lives that are less than intuitive and need a little explanation. One way I see recycling as a positive impact on our lives is that ultimately, it will save us time and money in finding new resources to produce new things. A simple yard sale is actually a form of recycling and a way to keep things from ending up in a landfill and requiring… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
It is easy to feel like, from a global perspective, there is no real reason to recycle because of how vast the Earth is and how relatively little impact one individual can have. Thinking of this in finite terms, that is not entirely far from the truth. But with the population of the Earth growing as it is, we need to be educating ourselves and further generations on how to live in a manner that will not destroy the world we live in. Take a single family unit with two parents and three children. Those three children, if the learn… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
It almost seems as though some people think that we have an unlimited about of resources. The truth is though, we are running out of many of those resources including many beautiful types of trees. Whether it’s old kitchen cabinets or all those water bottles, recycling is more important than many people realize. What some people don’t know is that many waste disposal facilities now sort through the trash to claim recyclables. However, this shouldn’t be used as an excuse not to recycle. This process eats up tax dollars and recycling is something you can easily do at home. Not… Read more »
Kathy Faust
Admin
Kathy Faust
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I jumped on the recycling wagon. At first I was overwhelmed by cleaning my recyclables so that I didn’t have to take off a handful of glass and plastic here and there. Since I don’t have local trash pickup, that means I need to put more effort into recycling, but I’m so glad I do. However, I don’t just focus on what can be recycled at the recycling center, I also focus on what I can recycle at home. One way I love to recycle things at home is to save anything… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous
Adults older than the age of 35 are much more likely to be parents, and instilling a sense of environmental responsibility with their children seemed to be a priority with these groups. Adults over 35 were also much more likely to be highly educated, with Master’s degrees or more. Adults with more education were considerably more likely to be very concerned with the environment. Does all of this mean that only parents are more likely to be interested in recycling? Not at all. In fact many different groups and types of people from all walks of life were likely to… Read more »
Anonymous
Anonymous

This is so good.

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