The Top Ten Reasons to Recycle
- Conserves ecosystems- Every resource we take out of the earth affects the wildlife and system dynamics of an ecosystem, potentially causing species extinctions, biodiversity loss, and our planet's ability to replace renewable resources.
- Saves energy- Manufacturing products from virgin materials requires a lot of energy. With recycled materials, steps can often be bipassed which results in both energy and monetary savings. For example, making aluminum cans from recycled cans uses 95 percent less energy than manufaturing them from virgin bauxite ore.
- Reduces oil imports- Because using recycled materials requires less energy, it also often requires less oil than production from virgin materials. This helps decrease our reliance on this commodity.
- Reduces harmful exports- It is very common that we ship our waste, especially dangerous electronic waste, overseas. This causes environmental and health problems in developing countries. We create the waste, but they suffer the consequences of our consumption habits.
- Stimulates the economy- Recycling creates new markets and business niches in our economy. By decreasing the annual cost of solid waste services, it frees up government funds for health and social services, transporation, and public safety.
- Creates jobs- Many people are surprised to find out that recycling creates 6 times as many jobs as landfilling waste does. The production of recycled paper requires 5 times more jobs than producing it from raw materials.
- Slows climate change- The Arctic Ocean will be ice free in the summers within the next 20 years leading to flooding, declines in wildlife, and other problems we may not have predicted. Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of waste going to incinerators and landfills, and especially by reducing emissions during the production process.
- Reduces need for landfills- Landfills take up valuable space, decrease property value for the surrounding land, create numerous health issues, and scar the landscape. They are growing constantly, so anything we can do to reduce them should be done.
- Produces less pollution- Every time waste is dealt with, it invariably releases pollution into air and water.
- It’s relatively easy- If you need convincing, please see below.
Ways People Try to Justify Not Recycling
- It takes too much time and effort- Try it, and see how much time and effort it takes. Most of the time, all it requires is a toss in the recycling bin instead of the trash. Curbside pick-up for recycling is common, so we don't even have to take our collected recycling to a depot or transfer station. Besides, if we have the time and make the effort to consume whatever we are consuming and subsequently need to throw away, we certainly have the ability and responsibility to recycle it.
- I don't know how- Today, with commingled recycling systems, recycling is really easy! All you have to know is to keep food and liquids out, and keep glass separate. Most plastics are accepted and information about those that aren't is easily found online. If you have specialized items you need to recycle, the Internet has a wealth of information to help you out.
- It isn't that effective in helping the environment- While waste reduction is more effective at helping the environment, recycling is still beneficial. It is inevitable that we will have to consume something in our lifetime, but if we can divert some of this from a landfill we have saved virgin resources, space, energy, and water.
- I can't individually make a difference- Every little bit helps. If each of us does our part, we can have an incredible impact! You do make a difference- whether it is simply through your own habits or spreading the message to others.
- I don't have the space- Think about the space you will have once your trash is reduced! Also, most haulers will provide recycling dumpsters to apartments and businesses, which allows frequent, easy dumping and only a small container.
- It'll get too messy- Done right (no food or liquids), recycling is far cleaner than trash!
- The drop-off location is too far away or it doesn't get picked up often enough- See if you can arrange something with your local waste hauler, or coordinate with a neighbor to spread the burden of taking it to the drop-off location.
- The consequences of not doing it will never affect me personally- It might not in our lifetime, but do you want the next generation to suffer because of our disregard? It could also affect you in surprising ways. Perhaps you have a family member living near a landfill who experiences health problems, pollution from an industry enters your water source, or the price of canned soda increases due to a decline in recycled source material.