Published Aug 4, 2014
Even if you didn’t grow up in a “green” household, you’ve probably heard phrases like “energy conservation,” “greenhouse gas emissions,” and “pollution prevention.” As American society grows more environmentally aware, environmentally-friendly processes like recycling are becoming more prevalent, encouraged, and even demanded.
So, why exactly does recycling matter?
Even before the environment is impacted, recycling is beneficial on a monetary level. Materials such as aluminum, fiber, glass, plastic, and steel have economic value that goes to waste if it is tossed in the landfills. Recycling allows all of these materials to be reused, thus saving both the expense of making the item and the cost of manufacturing new material.
Recycling is also worth it to your personal finances. Many companies will actually pay for items you would otherwise throw away, such as used computers, cell phones, and other electronics.
Extend Landfill Life Spans
The most obvious benefit of recycling is reduced waste in the landfills. Taking care of planet earth is probably most people’s #1 reason for recycling.
Recycling reduces the possibility of dangerous chemicals coming from the landfills by diminishing the toxic emissions that are released when waste is burned.
In 2006, the EPA announced that recycling just over 30% of the nation’s recyclable materials saved energy equivalent to 10 billion gallons of gasoline. It eliminated approximately 49.7 million metric tons of carbon in the air. That’s the amount emitted annually by 39 million cars.
It takes far less energy to recycle and reuse materials than it does to manufacture virgin materials. Industries will save energy by reusing old materials. For example, it takes 60% less energy to use recycle steel than it does to use raw materials.
Not only do recycled materials use less energy, but they also send less pollution into the air. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which are some of those buzzwords so often connected with recycling, climate change, and pollution.
America recycles more now than it did even 10 years ago, and the need has never been greater. Consumer electronics are an increasing worry. The electronics industry is, of course, constantly churning out new products, making older models obsolete.
Electronics contribute approximately 40% of the lead found in landfills, and the National Safety Council has predicted that as much as 1 billion pounds of lead will be added in the next few years—that’s 680 million computers.
Recycling reduces the need to mine, quarry, and process raw materials. The mining processes contribute substantially to air and water pollution, which in turn destroys or damages more of the earth’s natural resources.
Whether or not you’re an “environmentalist,” preserving the planet should be a priority. And you don’t have to join an activist group or invest a lot of time and money to make a difference. Just start recycling.
Recycling plants need employees to run them. Recycling stimulates the job department and develops the economy. The creation of new jobs is especially important as our economy slowly rises out of the depression of the last few years, and recycling is a large enough industry to make a significant difference.
In 2000, the recycling industry employed over 1.1 million people. And the more people recycle, the more jobs are created.
Foster Sense of Community
Anytime you take a step towards bettering your community, you’ll feel better about yourself. Being a responsible, active citizen will boost your self-esteem and inspire you to be more actively involved in community concerns and events.
Recycling is increasing in popularity, and Americans expect to have the option now. Approximately 7 out of 10 people think that recycling is a valid solution to environmental issues. It is important to the public, and contributing to the effort will give you a larger sense of commitment both to your community and the environment.
Every bit counts. You can recycle anything from tires to glass, steel to electronics, and the more you can reduce, reuse, and recycle, the more advantages we’ll see in our communities, cities, and the planet earth.