Why Is Recycling So Important?

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Recycling symbol on bottleThere are 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 that 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?

Every day we use a variety of products in our households and workplaces to fulfill our basic needs. Most of these products and their packaging are wasted and dumped in bins, which end up in landfill sites. Consumers place recyclable materials over to your local waste facility by placing it in a designated disposal container. Then it is taken to a recycling facility and/or transported to a location when that material can be reused 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 for 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.

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 from cut down trees is used to create first-generation paper. Recycled paper can be used in producing new paper without vastly compromising the quality of the final product. The same applies to most other materials like metal, glass and plastics.

What Can I Recycle?

What you can recycle depends on your area, not all materials may be recyclable. Check with your local recycling 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. Learn more about what recycling codes mean.

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!

Ways To Reduce Trash You Create

In general consumption of goods, we ignore the fact that a major portion of our waste can be reduced or reused before resorting to recycling. It would 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 then Recycle.

Simply cutting down on the amount of non-recyclable materials you throw out is easier than you think. Here are some tips to reduce waste.

  1. Bring your own reusable tote bags 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. Switch from mail to paperless statements (bills, financial statements, newsletters, etc.) and have them e-mailed to you instead.
  4. Buy products that are packaged in cardboard or paper board instead of Styrofoam.
  5. 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.
  7. Avoid using plastic wrap and instead opt for beeswax wraps for an eco friendly alternative.

Donate Your Clothing & Home Goods To Charity

  1. Most likely your city has many charity shops (like Goodwill and the Salvation Army) that will take your gently used clothes, electronics, furniture and other household items to resell as income for these non-profit organizations. You can even donate your car. These donations help others and are typically a tax deduction for you too.
  2. Shop at and sell your clothing on an online thrift store. Simply send in your items to sell them yourself or have them take care of the sale for a higher fee. Your trash just may be someone else’s treasure!
  3. Composting is the simple step of setting aside your fruit peels and pits along with other select food waste and putting it into a compost pile. This will not only reduce trash and create a much cleaner smelling kitchen but also produce great nutrients for your garden. Read more about Composting Bins

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 conscious in how you use and dispose of goods. Studies show that people who recycle instinctively cut back on buying unnecessary things. 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 to live. It is a direct contribution that everyone can make.

Apart from the environmental and emotional benefits, there is an economic impact via employment generated. 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 manpower involved in the logistics and processing of your waste is considerable and thus, you are helping to provide jobs and aid in the welfare of their families. Some will argue that the manpower and steps to recycle are more expensive than trash, but multiple organizations insist that the benefits significantly outweigh the additional resources and costs.

We must also be aware of the emissions that result from the incineration. Sometimes 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.

Recycling’s Global Impact

What happens to your recycled items after leaving the recycling bin? Plastics, in particular, can be expensive to process or some products are not recyclable due to being contaminated with food or other materials. In these cases, the goods become an internationally-traded commodity that was, until recently, shipped to China for a high price tag.

In 2018, China announced a ban on the import of plastic waste as an initiative to clean up its environment. This left other Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam to become the top importers of plastic scrap. However, the surge in plastic imports in those areas has encouraged unethical practices, and the local government is cracking down and shutting down those facilities. As a result, leaving the scrap to sit in abandoned facilities or stranded at seaports with no destination.

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.

Recycling Facts

Studies have shown that:

  • More than 60% of the rubbish that ends up in trash bins can be recycled.1
  • Around 16% of the cost of a product is spent on its packaging, which is completely wasted if not disposed of properly.2
  • 80% of a vehicle can be recycled.2
  • Aluminum cans can be recycled entirely and put to use in a short time.
  • Glass can be recycled 100% and reused.3
  • 24 trees are cut down to make one ton of paper.4
    • On the contrary, recycled paper is proved to create 70% less pollution compared to non-recycled material paper production.7
  • Plastics, which can often be recycled, take around 500 years to decompose.5
  • One recycled tin can saves enough energy to power a television for 2 hours.6
  • 70% less energy is utilized to recycle paper compared to making it from raw materials.7
  • Similarly, when you recycle one glass bottle, it can save enough energy to power a personal computer for 25 minutes.7

Reduce E-Waste Through Electronics Recycling

Spruce trees in forestDue to rapid technological change, obsolescent items have created a fast-growing mass of electronic waste around the globe. E-waste (or waste from electronics) is toxic if disposed of improperly. The chemicals, metals and associated solders, glues and plastics can cause both environmental and health problems.

For this reason, the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive in the European Union makes businesses, manufacturers and retailers of electrical and electronic equipment responsible for making sure their goods do not end up in landfill or incineration. Some new regulations involve dismantling of parts into metals, plastics and individually processing them.

So any working TVs, monitors, computers, cell phones, batteries and other consumer electronics can be sold or donated, thereby prolonging their useful life. Find out how you can turn your old electronics into cash by recycling them. And if they are no longer working, the same companies who will give you money for them should be able to accept them and ensure they are disposed of properly.

We Only Get One Planet

Hopefully, this article has helped you realize just how important your efforts are. Not just for us, but also our kids, grandchildren, and anyone that follows in our footsteps. Take care of your planet, and it will take care of you. When looking for ways to reduce environmental pollution and cut back on 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.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, we have plenty of articles about recycling, including freecycling programs and how you can reduce your use of plastic bags.

What are you doing to help reduce your carbon footprint?

Sources: [1] Indiana University. “Waste & Recycling.” Web Accessed April 25, 2015, [2] Consumer Reports, [3] GPI.org, [4] WorldAtlas.com, [5] Environment about.com, [6] Environmental Protection Agency, [7] RecyclingBins.co.uk

About The Author:

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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May 7, 2020 7:19 am

Please save the EARTH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 16, 2019 3:46 pm


Kate Hansen
October 15, 2019 2:29 pm

I’m glad that you mentioned that it can make you more conscious of how you use disposable goods. Lately, I’ve been wanting to become more environmentally friendly. I’ll have to look into recycling more!

Angela Waterford
October 11, 2019 3:24 pm

Most of the industrial facilities in my town have been disposing of scrap materials in our local landfill. I think it’s wasteful to do that, and if it were up to me, I’ll take them to a recycling facility. It’s good to know that this will help provide jobs for the local community, so I’ll be sure to suggest this when an opportunity strikes.

Dr. Nik Samsungo
September 24, 2019 10:42 am

People believe, so do I that if we can recycle our world, we can make a better and a Greener Planet. Were we live and on what we live in is important to not loose our homes. If a person can make a big difference, so can the other people around us. We will make plastic a thing of the past at 2025. Many things will change, and plastic will not effect us in the world in 5 years. I will do my best to save this mud ball from any big or dangerous effects.

Paul Huck
August 21, 2019 3:40 pm

Recycling is a myth, meant to assage liberals. I just left my local USPS. I watched an employee collect the trash. He rolled out a cart with one can & trash bag liner. He dumped 3 recycle receptacles, 2 plastic and 2 waste collection boxes all into the same can. He tied up the bag & rolled to the back. What good does separating do, if the collecting government just throws it all in together???

S. P
November 3, 2019 8:07 pm
Reply to  Paul Huck

At the very least, no good at all! However, if we don’t engage..for example, speak with our local USPS & perhaps take the trouble to follow up with your local Sanitation dept, well, then right, nothing changes. Your choice.

August 20, 2019 12:39 pm

why don’t we make an ad of how plastic is killing life in the ocean so people can do ocean neighborhood clean up

May 7, 2020 7:20 am
Reply to  Eliza

That is the best comment ever

Erika Bradey
August 2, 2019 8:39 pm

I like that you mention how recycled metal, paper, and other materials don’t affect the quality of the products it’s used for. This would make it useful to save on resources and money while still getting quality products. Since this is the case, it would probably be a good idea for companies to find local scrap metal pickup and other types of recycling services to work with so they can get rid of leftover material after a project and ensure that it can be used again.

David Johnson
August 1, 2019 4:45 pm

Before I read this, I hadn’t thought about how the rapid change of technology has led to a lot of electronic waste. At my home I have an outdated computer monitor and some other e waste. I’ll have to look more into electronic recycling.

Jenna Hunter
July 25, 2019 5:57 pm

It was really interesting to learn about how more than 60% of what goes into trash cans can be recycled. I can imagine that recycling can be really important for a business. Being able to recycle some of the harder metals would probably be done best by a professional.

Penelope Smith
May 22, 2019 10:53 pm

I didn’t realize that you can recycle electronics. It is also good that a lot of them have chemicals and metals that are valuable. That seems like a good thing to have a professional to help you figure out what you can recycle

Erika Bradey
April 30, 2019 7:24 pm

I like that you explain how recycling helps save the planet and can also save you money since you are more responsible with what you purchase since you need to consider the disposal that is necessary. When doing this, it would probably be a good idea to find the right company to work with. Working with a company could help you find one how to handle the waste recycling for food and any other items in order for you to be able to handle everything correctly by the containers and anything else you need to use.

Silas Knight
April 24, 2019 3:55 pm

You’ve got some great tips for recycling. I like how you said that we need to check with our city about what can be recycled. I’m pretty sure that plastic can be, and that’s something that we need to do better with.

Natalie Burgess
April 24, 2019 3:08 pm

Recycling is a good thing and i believe that it will save our world and that’s why i’ve told my parents and we all do our part now.

waste remediation services
April 20, 2019 7:06 am

The first benefit of recycling is that we are going to use the things without accessing it from nature on new level, thus preserving natural resources eventually and making every step of creation and usage as eco-friendly. Recycling is important for maintaining the resources and making a healthy civilization.

April 11, 2019 9:24 am

Does anyone know if/how/where you can recycle water filters specifically for refrigerators?! I can’t seem to find anything online anywhere about it. I’ll call the manufacturer but seems like such a waste to throw away every 6 months

April 10, 2019 3:18 pm

Dear Alex,
What do you mean by: “If everyone repurposed their copy of a single edition of The New York Times, we could save 75,000 trees”. Does this mean, just New York city, The U.S alone or the entire world?

no cares guy
March 6, 2020 5:21 pm
Reply to  Alex Schenker

love the idea

February 7, 2019 6:49 am

Dear Alex,
Is it okay with your if I use your material in my class? I teach English as a foreign language at a small private university in Germany. One of the topics that my students wanted to work on in the fourth semester, was recycling, another was global warming.
Die Gruppe ist eine Fachhochshulereife Gruppe, die im Juli eine Prüfung schreiben.

February 4, 2019 2:57 am

Identify any three different used or waste household items and discuss how these items could be recycled and further be incorporated in any business or could be used to start any new business?

Sariah Meagle
December 28, 2018 12:54 am

There’s a lot I still need to contribute to the community and since you mentioned that recycling helps build communities, I will decide to recycle scrap metals that I’ve had lying around for five years. I do agree that recycling creates jobs as you pointed out which is why I want to contact a local service to help me haul it all out next week. Since you did say that most waste can be minimized, I believe scrap metals can also get the same effect when they are recycled.

Chicken Nuggets
December 19, 2018 3:20 pm

This was good

December 14, 2018 6:24 am

Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle – great advice! While this article pretty much covers everything, there is one additional way of reusing things that can’t be recycled – donate them. Plastic toys, for example, should be donated so that the needy can get a chance to play with them. Brick Recycler, along with many other organizations, makes this task easy!

Gerty Gift
December 10, 2018 4:34 pm

I didn’t realize that aluminum cans can be recycled completely and be put to use in a short amount of time. My husband and I were talking about recycling metal before when we saw something on a TV show that mentioned it. It never occurred to me before now how many cans I’ve just thrown away, but it’s something that I’ll start working on as well as some other metal products.

December 7, 2018 11:57 am

great advise for my school article thanks

March 28, 2019 3:34 pm
Reply to  resgell

Me too

Tater Tot
December 16, 2019 3:49 pm
Reply to  Trinity


Tim Yaotome
November 27, 2018 9:00 pm

I never thought that most household products and their packaging are wasted and dumped in bins which can be sent to environmentally-harmful landfills. With this, it is also possible that one can reduce the consumption of materials in industrial companies as they too are involved in disposing raw material packaging and creating scrap materials. One way to do this is to hire an industrial recycling company that provides bins and recycling facilities. Doing this will help reduce their carbon footprint while being able to improve their production at the same time.