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Why recycle?

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There are many reasons to recycle.

A concise answer to the question Why recycle? is quite simple. Recycling saves energy and natural resources—saving you money in the long-term. Additionally, recycling limits pollution and helps the economy. If you're still asking Why recycle?, review the following to understand the full impact of recycling on all our lives.

If you have children, review these simple facts with them. Although, truth be told, if they are of school age, they probably are more conversant with recycling than you are!

Recycling Saves Energy

By reducing the need to process new material, recycling saves energy because processing new material requires more energy. For example, to make an aluminum can from recycled metal takes only 5 percent of the total energy needed to produce the can from unrecycled materials (95 percent energy savings). Recycled paperboard and paper require 75 percent less energy than the production of new products.

Recycling Conserves Natural Resources

By reducing the need for new material, recycling conserves natural resources. While some natural resources are renewable, others are not.

Most paper products come from renewable timber sources. Although trees harvested to make these products can be replaced by planting more trees, it takes a long time for most trees to grow.

Iron and aluminum products are derived from nonrenewable ore deposits. The ore cannot be replaced once a deposit is mined.

One of the best examples of how harvesting natural resources is harming the environment is deforestation. You can help by recycling more paper and old wooden products.

Recycling Limits Pollution

Recycling reduces pollution because recycling a product creates less pollution than producing a new product.

Recycling can also reduce pollution by recycling safer products to replace those that pollute. Some countries still use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to manufacture foam products such as cups and plates. Many scientists theorize that CFCs harm the atmosphere's protective layer of ozone. Using recycled plastic instead of those products containing CFCs will help to eliminate their harmful effects. Reducing pollution will help in the world's fight against global warming. This is one of the most important answers to the question of why recycle.

Recycling Saves Valuable Landfill Space

Land that must be set aside for dumping not only regular household trash, but also construction debris and yard waste, reduces the amount of open spaces available to a community. Some experts estimate that each person, on average, discards almost a ton of municipal solid waste (MSW) per year. Of all countries in the world, the United States has the highest MSW level. Not an enviable achievement!

Currently, landfills reach capacity very quickly and it is difficult to find new sites because homeowners object to the smells, noise and the additional hazard of leaks into underground water supplies. Wouldn't you? You can help reduce the need for new landfills by recycling products and by generating less waste to begin with.

Some communities have facilities that burn trash to create energy to heat water for steam-turbine electrical generators. Almost 14.5 percent of municipal solid waste is kept out of landfills by using this type of recycling.

Recycling Helps the Economy

Most experts feel that, in the long run, with technologies expanding so rapidly, recycling will aid the economy by helping to create new "green jobs" with the introduction of new, recycled materials for home construction, as well as new methods of heating and cooling.

Think about the five answers above to the question why recycle the next time you start to discard an empty soda can or plastic water bottle. Contact your local waste management company to find out what their specific recycling program entails and comply with their guidelines. Most communities have recycling programs; however, all are not the same. Make this a family project. After all, it's your children's future that's at stake!

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