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Most people are on board with practicing reduce reuse recycle. We’ve been providing tips on how to recycle all kinds of everyday items. What can be recycled? Just about anything! We recently received an email wondering about some recycling basics, like why should we recycle at all. We’ve compiled a list of the benefits of recycling so that you can reference it whenever anyone else asks.
Recycling comes down to saving energy. It takes energy to recycle, but it’s most often less energy than using new resources.
Benefits of Recycling
There’s no particular order of the top 5 benefits of recycling, and you may have your own personal outlook that includes other benefits not mentioned here. Do leave a comment if you have anything else to add.
This is a no-brainer: Using stuff we already have is better than burying it and digging up more material. The amount of energy saved differs by material, but overall recycling conserves energy. At 95% savings, aluminum can recycling saves the most energy than mining new aluminum ore.
Less waste sent to landfills.
Another great way to look at it, from the EPA: In one year, 130 million cubic yards of material was diverted from landfills due to recycling and composting in the U.S. If this amount of material had not been recycled, the U.S. would have needed 64 additional landfills, each with enough capacity to serve the combined city populations of Dallas and Detroit.
Not just landfills, but also incinerators too; there is less pollution created when we reduce the need to collect new raw materials. Reusing and recycling conserves our natural resources and avoids air and water pollution, as well as greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by manufacturing virgin materials.
This benefit is related to saving energy, but more focused on the usable resources we have all around us and sometimes take for granted. Natural resources include water, minerals, and wood.
This is especially true for electronic products, as mounting e-waste is a global problem. Electronics are made from valuable resources and highly engineered materials, including metals, plastics, and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Refurbishing electronics to give them a seconds life is a better choice than recycling them. Read more on Recycling Electronics.
Recycling is an important part of our economy. The recycling and reuse industry consists of approximately 56,000 organizations that employ over 1.1 million people and gross over $236 billion in annual revenues.
- Remember that the first R is Reduce, and we provide tons of articles on how to simplify your life and live quite happily but with less stuff.
- Brush up on the other, lesser known R’s on your quest to reduce reuse recycle, such as Repair, Reclaim, Refurbish and Rethink.
- Take opportunities to Go Beyond Recycling. We strive to make our blog a place where anyone can be an environmental steward by taking small actions each day. This article is a good primer on the benefits of recycling, but there’s a lot more work to be done!
Photo top right: edkohler