We have all been guilty of turning our backs on recycling at one time or another.
We know we shouldn't throw that plastic container out the car window, but we ignore our conscience and do it anyway.
Recycling is more than just a duty. It translates into tax savings for you by eliminating some of the need for community clean-up services.
Recycling also saves you money by providing raw materials for products you buy.
These raw materials cost less than materials purchased at full price.
You probably use many products made from these materials, without even knowing the products were made from recycled materials.
- Ice Scrapers
- Pet Dishes
- Fanny Packs
- Park Benches
That's just the short list!
The recycling process turns waste materials into marketable products, and provides benefits for the environment and the community.
When you put your standard recycling items at the curb (newspapers, cardboard, glass, aluminum), the materials picked up by authorized recycling and carting companies.
These materials are sorted into categories and shipped to facilities that process and distribute the recycled material to make new products.
In this decade alone, standard community recycling methods, when combined with composting of organic waste, e.g. vegetables, coffee grounds, fruit rinds, decreased landfill dumping by 30-40 million tons per year, over what we sent to landfills during the 1990s.
In fact, today our recycling methods divert approximately 35% of our solid waste away from landfills and into recycled products and/or compost piles that enrich gardens and soil all across America.
Sensitivity to recycling and the need for environmental controls has increased significantly. So much so that compliance with recycling standards and guidelines has doubled over a period of 20 years.
This measurable progress is even more impressive when you consider compliance for specific types of materials and containers.
- Paper - 42%
- Aluminum Cans - 55%
- Plastic Bottles - 40%
- Appliances - 52%
That's impressive! But, we have a long way to go.
Saving money is always good, isn't it?
When you buy recycled products, the manufacturers and distributors have an incentive to create and market EVEN MORE recycled products.
If these manufacturers know that recycled products are popular with consumers, they are bound to continue their good work.
Retailers and manufacturers of products made with recycled materials spend a significant amount of money to package and advertise their products as 'recycled'.
Look for these labels when you go to the store, and support the companies that lend a helping hand.
When you are considering the things you can do to recycle, don't forget about composting.
You can remove a significant amount of garbage from your garbage cans, by starting a compost pile into which you can throw all your organic waste (leftover food, and leaves and twigs from your yard).
You can use this compost in your gardens and around your bushes and trees to encourage growth and provide nutrition for your plants.
Here are just some of the benefits of recycling.
Think about how and why these benefits might apply in your community and around the country.
Prevents soil erosion
Provides raw materials for industrial, manufacturing and retail products
Provides nutrients and encourages plant growth
Reduces greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution
Encourages healthy soil organisms like worms
Creates jobs and reduces unemployment
Reduces organic waste in landfills
Encourages research and development of green-friendly technology and products
Prevents some common plant diseases
Reduces the necessity to find and build new landfills
Decreases the need for fertilizer and/or pesticide
Now that you are convinced of the importance of recycling, we don't want you to become complacent, thinking that there is nothing more to be done in your community or business environment.
If we are to continue this progress, everyone has to remain vigilant. You must look for more opportunities to make recycling and reuse a part of your everyday life.
On this website, we have given you a list of the things you can recycle in most communities, as well as some other items you may not have even considered for recycling.
It is important that you know what can be recycled and how to do safely recycle these items.
Later, we will also talk more about 'reuse' and how you can salvage items for other uses instead of contributing to the garbage dump in your community.
Before we leave this section, we'd like to offer two important reminders:
- If there is a recycling program in your town, city or community, be sure you find out when and how to leave your items at curbside for recycling pick-up, or where and you can drop off these items for recycling.
- When you shop, look for products that are packaged in recyclable containers, products that require NO packaging (for example, buy fresh vegetables instead of canned) or products made from recycled materials