Why Recycle?

Why Not?! It keeps waste out of the landfill, saves resources and energy, prevents pollution, saves money, and it’s easy! However, many recyclables are taken to the landfill when they could have been recycled and served a whole new purpose, see What Recyclables Can Become.

 

Keeps waste out of the landfill

Everything you throw in the trash is taken to the landfill – a hole in the earth that is filled with trash, a burial ground for any and everything dumped in it. It’s the end of the road for many things that could have been reused or recycled into something else, instead they slowly decompose, or rot, into the earth’s soil. Landfills have composite liners; however, they eventually leak and their toxic leachate, or garbage juice, can seep into and contaminate soil and groundwater supplies.

How long does it take to decompose?
Aluminum can
80-200 years
Disposable diapers
450 years
Foam cup
50 years
Glass bottle
1 million years
Newspaper
6 weeks
Nylon fabric
30-40 years
Paper towel
2-4 weeks
Plastic bag
10-20 years
Plastic bottles
450 years
Plywood
1-3 years
Styrofoam
Never
Tires
50-80 years
Tin can
50 years
Waxed milk carton
3 months
 
 

Most of these items can be recycled into something completely different, see What Recyclables Can Become.

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Conserves Resources and Saves Energy

Paper and cardboard come from trees, plastics from oil, metals from rocks (ores), and glass from sand. Recycling means that we don’t have to chop down, extract, or mine to collect more raw materials for making the things we use every day.

One ton of recycled…
  • Aluminum saves 40 barrels of oil, 4 tons of bauxite ore, 10 cubic yards of landfill space, and uses 95% less energy.
  • Paper saves 17 trees, 7000 gallons of water, 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space, and uses 50-60% less energy.
  • Plastic saves 16.3 barrels of oil, 30 cubic yards of landfill space, and uses 90% less energy.
  • Glass saves over a ton of raw materials, 5 gallons of oil, 2 cubic yards of landfill space, and uses 30% less energy.

Recycling not only conserves our natural resources, it also uses significantly less energy which results in less burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas.

Recycling just one glass bottle saves enough energy to light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours!

Two gallons of recycled motor oil can power an average home for one day, cook 48 meals in a microwave oven, blow dry a person’s hair at least 216 times, or power a television for more than seven days straight!

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Prevents Pollution

Manufacturing recycled material generates less air and water pollution than using raw materials. Recycling reduces emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons, that contribute to global climate change.

Recycled glass creates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than glass made from raw materials!

Recycled cardboard creates 35% less water pollution and 74% less air pollution!

Saves Money

It not only costs money to take waste to the landfill but when it could have been recycled (80% of landfill waste) we throw away products that still have a purpose; therefore, they still have value. Furthermore, additional money, resources, and energy are required to extract, manufacture, and transport more raw materials. All the environmental benefits, such as reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, have economic value as well.

It’s Easy

Curbside – most items can go in your green recycling cart.
Recycling Center – drop off non-freon appliances, automotive products, propane tanks, and more.
Shred for a Paws Cause – safely recycle confidential documents, hard drives, CDs, and more. Items are shredded and recycled offsite.
HHW Collection Events – dispose of paint, fertilizers, cleaners, and other common household chemicals.

 

Sources

Green Living Tips