Recycling is one of the most well-known and widespread environmental actions that citizens can take. While it’s not a silver bullet, it can help reduce harmful impacts on the environment and create jobs in communities across the country. The benefits of recycling include reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, conserving natural resources, and creating economic opportunities in local communities.
Recycling reduces the need to consume new raw materials by converting used material into new products. This cuts back on the amount of trees that need to be cut down, rivers that need to be dammed or mined for iron or other minerals, and fossil fuels that need to be burned to produce energy. This helps to preserve natural habitats for animals and plants, and keeps the Earth’s water supplies clean.
When trash is left to decompose in landfills, it produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide. By recycling paper, glass, plastic, metals and batteries, we can avoid producing this harmful substance that causes climate change.
The process of recycling involves sorting and separating waste materials. This can provide workers with job opportunities that would otherwise not exist, including driver, material handlers, mechanics, and managers at recycling centers and other facilities that are part of the recovery process. By supporting recycling, we can ensure that these important jobs remain in the United States instead of outsourcing the work to other countries.
In addition to jobs, recycling also provides tax revenue that can be used for public services such as roads, schools, and community spaces. By encouraging recycling, we can invest in our communities and create a better future for everyone.
While we should always strive to recycle as much as possible, there are other ways that we can help the planet:
Reduce consumption and look for reusable alternatives to single-use items. This can include using old shirts as rags to clean small messes, storing food in glass jars rather than plastic containers, or buying items made from recycled material.
Be aware of what the different recycling symbols on products mean and be sure to place them in the right bin. For example, the number 1 on a bottle means Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE), and the number 4 on a plastic container is Density-Polyethylene (LDPE or LDPTE).
If you’re unsure about how to properly dispose of your waste, ask your local sanitation department for guidelines or use Earth911’s online database to find recycling information by zip code. In many cities, recycling is easy to do with clearly labeled bins that make it clear which materials can be placed in them. By following these tips, we can keep our communities and planet healthier and happier. This is an effort that we all need to join. Together, we can change the world for the better!