Beyond Recycling

The great thing about recycling is that it’s easy and everyone can do it. But there are plenty of other things people can do too! Often on this blog, we talk about recycling and the amazing, creative new ways people find to do it. Underlying the need for recycling is the understanding that conservation of resources is important and each person has an impact on the planet.

A few things to keep in perspective:

Recycling 7
Creative Commons License photo credit: timtak

Some things just can’t be used again, and were never intended to be reused. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be if this wasn’t the case? If every single thing you used and bought could be reused and recycled? No matter how creative one individual can be in recycling and reducing their waste, as a consumer-based society we’re just not at that advanced stage.
So for now, it’s not about feeling bad if you have to throw something in the trash. But it is about being conscious of the entire recycling process. Think about what you’re buying and where it will ultimately end up. A good question to ask at that point: Is there any way to buy something more environmentally-friendly or made of recycled content?

We all have an impact, just by living together on the planet. And after all, we live in an industrialized world and recycling is an industrial process that also makes an environmental impact. This impact is usually less (requires less energy) than making products from scratch (out of virgin materials). The idea is to make the landfill a last resort and instead use some creativity.

Think of it like this: getting materials from the mines or from forests, processing them into materials and then turning them into products is greater than the environmental and energy impact of collecting those products, processing them and using them as raw materials to make new products.

Be sure to check out our guide to recycling terminology, RecycLingo, to learn more!

Related Articles and Links

Recycling still the most effective waste disposal method, Guardian.co.uk

Why Recycle?, National Geographic

Environment Links Directory – an online directory of the best environment and nature sites.

International Society for Industrial Ecology
American Center for Life Cycle Assessment

Small Actions Add Up

Remember, recycling itself can be rewarding, but it cannot be underestimated how important it is to make waste reduction a part of your daily routine. Reduce is the first of the 3 Rs for a reason.

Good luck with your reducing and recycling efforts! Remember: all your efforts are worth it because small things add up.