To Recycle or Not to Recycle?
by: Arlene Castro
That is the question my daughter recently asked me. Do you really think that recycling makes a difference? Of course, my reply was, Yes! It only makes sense to me. But then I got to thinking about it and wanted to find out how recycling is really helping our planet, so I started looking for more information and this is what I found:
An obvious reason to recycle is to help save trees which provide oxygen for the planet and help to preserve our wildlife that lives in those trees. Recycled paper is more cost effective to purchase, uses less water consumption to make, and saves electricity. Over 400-kilowatt hours of energy are saved by recycling paper as opposed to making a 1-ton batch. It also helps in reducing oil dependence and air pollution by not having to burn fuel to make and burn it. Recycling paper has also helped create new jobs for collectors, sorters, and machine operators to name a few.
It takes more and more resources and energy to make new items then to recycle them. For example: 20 recycled aluminum cans can be made with the same energy that is needed to produce one new aluminum can. By recycling one aluminum can it can save enough energy to keep a 100 watt light bulb burning for almost 4 hours or run your TV for 3 hours. So next time you think of tossing your can in a non-recyclable bin think twice.
Glass is a popular recycled material. Mainly because of its raw material composite which is mostly sand and because it can be recycled over and over without compromising its quality. Recycled glass is the main ingredient in the making of new glass bottles. An estimated 80 percent of recycled glass is made into new bottles each year. Every 20 glass bottles you recycle will save two pounds of carbon emissions.
How does it all add up? Each pound of mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) that you recycle is not only a pound saved from a landfill dump, but it also saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. The average person recycles 1.5 pounds of MSW every day, it can really add up and make a difference. Every ton of recycled MSW saves 2.27 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Happily, we are recycling about 1.5 out of 4.5 pounds of MSW each day. That is about 1/3 of our waste. If we can get the number to 50 percent, we'd save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per household in a year.
Another great reason to recycle besides helping save energy and reduce carbon dioxide is to be able to help with causes. The Cans for Habitat program has a national partnership with The Aluminum Association and Habitat for Humanity where aluminum cans are recycled through a network of nationwide drop off locations to raise money for Habitat for Humanity which in turn builds affordable housing for low-income families.
As you have just read, Yes recycling makes a difference. With that being said, it is not the only thing we could do to help our planet. Other things to consider would be Buy green power for your home, be conscious about your transportation choices, take a bus or carpool, and become a weekday vegetarian and you will have cut your carbon footprint in half. Recycling is good for us and good for our planet : )
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