While most people say they support recycling, 91 percent of plastic waste still makes its way into landfills every day. This has huge consequences for life on this planet.
At the very least, we’ll find ourselves buried in waste before too long unless we start to back up our words with actions soon.
Here’s a reminder about why recycling should be a priority for everyone.
1. Environmental Benefits
Waste products like plastic and paper can travel miles on the breeze, polluting and poisoning watercourses, forests, and fields with their noxious chemicals.
Inevitably these stray items end up the oceans. There are already massive swirling patches of garbage in all the world’s great oceans.
Millions of creatures who live in these environments die every year due to man’s wastefulness. The loss of even one tiny species reverberates through the ecosystem, disrupting the delicate balance of life on Earth.
Mining activities, forestry, and agriculture destroy the habitats of wild creatures, causing starvation, death, and ultimately extinction for fragile species. Every living creature has its place in the grand scheme of things and even the smallest loss can have a devastating knock-on effect.
2. Reduced Energy Consumption
It takes a lot less energy to recycle goods than it does to create them from scratch. Metal recycling takes up to 30% less energy than mining new ores.
Less energy means fewer carbon emissions, which in turn helps prevent climate change from getting any worse. Creating 1 ton of recycled paper produces over 4 tons fewer carbon emissions than making the same amount of paper from scratch.
The energy saved by recycling one glass bottle could power a 100-watt lightbulb for up to four hours.
When manufacturers have the raw ingredients for their products on hand they don’t need to buy more, so they use less raw materials.
3. Recycling Conserves Natural Resources
Believe it or not, Earth’s resources are finite. Although the planet’s perfectly engineered to constantly renew some of its resources, like plants, there are limitations to this design.
The bottom line is if we keep using up things faster than they can regenerate we’ll run out.
Recycling greatly reduces the need to harvest resources, helping nature to renew its natural supplies. This is how it works:
- Paper and wood recycling reduce the need for wood harvested from virgin rainforests and ancient woodlands.
- Plastic recycling means we have to make less plastic from irreplaceable fossil fuel hydrocarbons.
- Metal recycling cuts the need to extract new ores from finite natural reserves.
- Glass recycling means less sand’s used to make new glass.
These are only a few examples of the things that both homeowners and businesses can recycle. According to the waste management company, Cleanlites Recycling, almost every industry can join in to help conserve the Earth resources by recycling their waste products.
It’s easy to imagine what a difference it would make if we all got on board.
4. Helps Slow Climate Change
Reduced energy consumption means less carbon released into the atmosphere. In turn, this helps to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.
Recycling also contributes to less methane-releasing waste in our landfills and using less wood means there are more trees to help filter harmful gases out of the atmosphere. Landfills currently produce twice as many carbon emissions as the entire aviation industry.
Every ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees and trees are our greatest defense against escalating global warming.
5. Protects the Vulnerable
The constant harvesting of raw materials doesn’t only displace animals, insects, and birds. At times, the poorest of the poor living on the edges of natural resources find themselves homeless too.
Ongoing encroachment onto traditional lands leaves these vulnerable people without homes, forcing them to seek housing and employment in nearby cities and towns.
This increases the problem of homelessness and poverty in these already densely populated areas and leads to crime driven by desperation. For example, there are hundreds of indigenous tribes living in the Amazon jungle who stand to lose their homes as the loggers make their way through this important ecosystem.
6. Saves Money
When you pop all your recyclable items into a recycle bin, you save money on waste removal services. You can also save on supplies by re-using plastic detergent containers and buying more cost-effective refills.
Creating a compost heap for green waste and food waste helps you grow vegetables and fruit without fertilizers. Growing your own food also means fewer carbon emissions due to farming and transporting food to you.
Some bottles and cans now offer an incentive for people who recycle by charging a refundable deposit when you buy these items. When you hand these bottles back to the supplier, you get cashback.
Many recycling companies will pay you for plastic and glass waste too.
7. Creates Jobs
When you support your local recycling center, you’re helping to secure jobs for people in your area. Thousands of people work in the recycling industry performing important tasks like:
- Collecting, sorting and preparing recyclable materials
- Manufacturing new products from recyclables
- Refurbishing items harvest from electronic recycling initiatives
The recycling chain also indirectly provides work for the drivers, retailers, and designers involved along the way.
Do More Good
There’s no argument against recycling and no excuse not to get involved right away. There are so many ways you can ensure a better future for all.
Before you throw that next item in the trash, think carefully about where it will end up. Support companies that have recycling initiatives in place and don’t buy single-use plastics.
For more ideas on how to work, play, and live smarter, keep reading our blog.