Recycling is the process of converting waste into usable new materials and products. However, not all waste can be recycled–only things like paper, plastic bottles or packaging, aluminium, styrofoam, tin cans and certain types of glass–and thus our waste must be separated into two different groups: non-recyclable and recyclable. Because of this somewhat tedious step, most people choose not to recycle. However, with this one decision, you may or may not be seriously harming the environment. The following are some reasons why that extra step of separating your trash is completely worth it.
1. Recycling saves energy
It takes much less energy to manufacture any product if it is made from recycled material than it is to do so by new raw resources. This makes sense because there is a lot more energy required to extract and refine materials than it is to revert the recyclable materials into a reusable state. According to EcoCycle, a website advocating recycling, “By recycling about 30% of our waste every year, Americans save the energy equivalent of 11.9 billion gallons of gasoline.” Saving this much gasoline is almost equivalent to taking “25 million” cars off of the road, so you can imagine how much recycling would decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
2. Recycling creates jobs
The recycling industry requires a larger workforce than does the management of a landfill. There are many more steps and processes involved in recycling materials and thus there are more people that must be involved. EcoCycle claims that “for every one job at a landfill there are 10 jobs in recycle processing and 25 jobs in recycling-based manufacturers.” The one simple act of recycling gives 35 extra people a job to call theirs. In doing so, you will also be able to improve the economy of your own country.
3. Recycling reduces air pollution
When waste is sent to landfills, it starts to decompose over time. In the process of decomposition, the waste releases a gas called methane, which according to Sciencing, an online science magazine, is twenty times more harmful to our environment than is carbon dioxide. Methane along with other toxic gases that are released by the waste gets trapped in the atmosphere so it is very likely that we are breathing in these toxins or these chemicals may be existing in many bodies of water. With recycling, we can prevent the release of such chemicals that can only exist from the decomposition of waste.
4. Recycling saves money
Maintaining a landfill costs much more money than an average person could imagine. For example, a landfill requires the installation of air pollution monitors, filters to reduce the spreading of the odorous and deathly chemicals and gas wells. Other than these there are several other costly factors that must be taken into consideration. These costs live as long as the landfill does, which is usually several decades. Although recycling plants require a large amount of money to set up and get running, once it is built once, it is not as costly to continue to manage. In the long run, recycling is far more economic.
5. Recycling is mandatory in Korea
The recycling system is very organized in Korea with specific bins for certain materials that must be thrown away in designated plastic bags. These plastic bags can be purchased in conveniencestores or grocery stores and are priced according to size. If you decide not to follow these rules, not only will you be yelled at by angry old Korean ladies, but you will also have to pay a fine. But if correctly disposing of trash is just too much and these fines and the four other benefits listed prior don’t mean anything too you, than waste as much as you’d like.
As cliche as this may sound, all the difference starts from just one person. Of course, just because you, just one person, decide to separate your trash into different categories before discarding doesn’t mean global warming will instantly come to an end and the millions of unemployed will suddenly get a job. However, these inexorable problems may be solved if millions of people like you come together. So, hopefully these five reasons were enough to convince you to recycle and make the world a better place to live.