Paul has worked in a waste management capacity for almost ten years and is a keen recycler. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
Despite the benefits of recycling being widely publicized in recent years, according to surveys, one quarter of Americans still don’t recycle anything at all. There is a first time for everything, of course, and most people, including myself, can remember when they just threw everything in the trash can without any sorting and let the trash collectors haul it off.
If you are new to recycling, or are unsure about some of the issues involved, or are just wondering whether it is worth all the effort and - I have put together this list of 10 reasons why you should recycle. At the very least, I hope that you will appreciate after reading it why people like myself believe that recycling is so important. Better still, I hope that will seriously consider recycling more yourself.
The 10 Best Reasons For Recycling
- Reduces Environmental Damage
- Business Benefits and Job Creation
- Encourages People to Think Global
- The Snowball Effect
- Everybody Needs to be Involved
- Pressures the Politicians
- It Doesn't Cost You Any Money
- Reduced Contamination
- Many Resources are Finite
- Packaging and Waste
I will go into each reason in more detail below.
1. Reduces Environmental Damage
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the environmental benefits of recycling include:
- Less trash ending up in landfills, or being incinerated
- Saved energy
- Natural resources like wood and water are conserved
- Stops pollution by taking away the need to accumulate new raw materials
Basically, the more waste that gets recycled, the less damage is done to the environment.
2. Business Benefits and Job Creation
Everybody wins with recycling. It is not just beneficial to the environment and a way of tackling global warming, it is also good for businesses and industry because it conserves energy. That’s because it is cheaper to recover raw materials from recycled waste than go through the damaging and expensive process of extract them from scratch, or by going through the original manufacturing processes. Jobs are also created. According to a United States Environmental Protection Agency report in 2016, 681,000 jobs, $37.8 billion in wages, and $5.5 billion in tax revenues were owed to recycling in a single year.
3. Encourages People to Think Global
Recycling makes people think global, as environmental destruction and sustainable living aren't just issues for one country, they concern the entire human race and planet. If the human race carries on as it is, we will run out of places to bury the synthetic waste, or do the environment serious damage, as is happening with global warming.
4. The Snowball Effect
Between about 2/3 and 3/4 of household waste is currently recyclable. The more people who get involved with recycling, the more resources can be made available for recycling and the more pressure can be put on manufacturers and stores to use renewable materials for things like packaging.
5. Everybody Needs to be Involved
Recycling is not just something that a handful of environmentalists should be involved with – it is something that everybody needs to be doing.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that man-made synthetic waste that isn’t recycled is causing serious problems with health, the weather, and the eco-system generally. While it is true that just a few people recycling 50% of their waste wouldn’t make much difference, if the majority of people do it, then it can make a huge difference.
6. Pressures the Politicians
The more ordinary people there are who recycle, the stronger is the message to the politicians and leaders that strong action is needed on a national and international level. Ordinary people taking responsibility for their waste therefore makes a political difference, as well as a practical one.
7. It Doesn't Cost You Any Money
Recycling is, generally speaking, free. All it will cost you is a little time and effort sorting your waste into the basic categories and washing out cans and bottles. It will also maybe cost, depending on your waste collection services, a small amount of fuel for the transport of your recycling boxes and bags to be recycled.
8. Reduced Contamination
Trash pollutes the environment generally. When plastic debris gets into rivers and oceans, it harms marine organisms and can get into the food chain, causing problems for bird and animal life. Trash can also contaminate the soil. It undermines local eco-systems.
Recycling is the most responsible way in which trash can be dealt with.
9. Many Resources are Finite
Many of the resources that are used to produce products and packaging in the modern world are finite. Plastic requires oil, for instance, and the oil will eventually run out. The sooner and more extensively that we can switch to using only renewal fuels and materials, and then recycle them, the better. Generally speaking, it's better to utilize reusable items and devices, rather than single use products.
10. Packaging and Waste
You can cut down on the amount of waste that you generate generally, regardless of whether it is recyclable or not, by thinking about the things that you buy. The less plastic packaging a product has, for instance, the less waste there is left over after you’ve used or consumed it. Some stores will allow you to buy loose products in bulk, such as rice, coffee, lentils, and fill your own (reusable) jars and containers.
Sources and Further Reading
- Recycling Basics | US Environmental Protection Agency
- Impacts of Mismanaged Trash | US Environmental Protection Agency
- Benefits of Recycling | National Institutes of Health
- A Plague of Plastics | National Wildlife Federation
- Attenborough: World 'changing habits' on plastic | BBC News
We live in a disposable society. It's easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even give it a name - we call it recycling.
— Neil LaBute
People who volunteer at the recycling center or soup kitchen through a church or neighborhood group can come to feel part of something 'larger.' Such a sense of belonging calls on a different part of a self than the market calls on. The market calls on our sense of self-interest. It focuses us on what we 'get.'
— Arlie Russell Hochschild
I'm mad keen on recycling because I'm worried about the next generation and where all this waste we're producing is going. It has to stop. I wash out my plastic containers and recycle envelopes, everything I possibly can.
— Cherie Lunghi
Questions & Answers
Question: How can we stop people leaving plastic bottles on the beach?
Answer: Educating people about the consequences of littering the beach with plastic is good, but generally has a limited effect. Dissuading people through laws and policing can help, but again isn't that effective. Providing people with incentives to recycle would seem to be a workable idea that does have evidence of success. The UK, for example, is currently introducing a deposit scheme, where people receive money when they return plastic bottles after use. The ideal solution, however, would be for all plastic products to be replaced with biodegradable alternatives.
Question: How can we educate school children about recycling? At my school picking up litter is treated as a punishment.
Answer: Too many people throw away their empty bottles, wrappers, packaging, and general litter without thinking about what happens to it later. Children and adults need to be educated on how trash is disposed of and why so much of it can end up in, for example, the sea, or washed up on beaches. It's also important to understand how much energy and resources go into making single-use plastics, such as water bottles. Producing recyclable or biodegradable products solves some of the issues, though lifestyle changes such as using a water flask filled from the tap instead of buying a plastic water bottle are better. Litter is so often a waste of resources, and disruptive to the environment, including animal life.
© 2014 Paul Goodman
Sheyla on February 28, 2020:
Julio on January 28, 2020:
Kakashi Hatake on January 28, 2020:
Recycling is the best!!
on January 28, 2020:
Lovelysa on January 27, 2020:
Recycle is good 4 all people & it is kinda fun to recycle
piggy on January 23, 2020:
I love recycleing it gets me positive and its fun cleaning up the earth some time but sometimes it can tired and sometime boaring but you still clean up
;) on January 23, 2020:
hi recylcling is good
dantdm on January 11, 2020:
recyleing is important
hola chicas of this world on October 07, 2019:
recycling should be mandatory and it is amazing and people should do it more often. people should be fined for not recycling because it is killing the sea animals. and yeah. love you guys i am out byeeeee sisters!
me, myself, and I on October 02, 2019:
i recycle like nobody's business!!!
Mahla on August 03, 2019:
I try to recycle, and i can
kae on November 21, 2018:
I love recycling. I have tried to cut down on producing waste as much as i can.
hi on November 30, 2017:
i love recycling
hjgk on January 03, 2017:
Hailee Shay on November 22, 2016:
I really think if we all took small little steps like recycling or water conservation http://lawntechutah.com/11-ways-to-help-water-cons... we could really make a huge difference. Earth is the only planet we've got right now, and we as humans need to take better care of it.
Better Yourself from North Carolina on October 26, 2014:
Congrats on HOTD! And agreed on all points above, you've done a great job breaking down the importance of recycling. Hoping this reaches readers who aren't already recycling and makes an impact. Loved the first video, its always fun and interesting learning from a kids perspective. Great hub, voted up!
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on October 24, 2014:
Congratulations for the HOTD! Very good hub, enjoyed it.
I have been a recycler all my life, I hate waste, in most cases I reuse wherever possible.
We live in the country and it's causes a lot of problems having waste around, you can't just trash it, so no food is wasted, as it only encourages rats and they can be some of the biggest waste of food, like stored pumpkins, onions etc in a shed we had problems, found away around it.
It's just a matter of working around any issues and recycling waste instead of encouraging more waste.
RAJESH CHANDRA PANDEY from India on October 24, 2014:
First of all my heartiest congratulations. You could have done well to include some simple ways to recycle also so that everyone could have used them. But perhaps that was not within the scope of the article.
Mary Hyatt from Florida on October 24, 2014:
Congrats on HOTD! Very well laid out Hub and very interesting, too. Everyone should do their part in recyling. I am interested in a company that is trying to make more foods into an eatable wrapper. There would be no paper wraps! They are even working on drinks that you can consume the container the drink came in! No more plastic bottles.
Voted Up, etc.
Comfort Babatola from Bonaire, GA, USA on October 24, 2014:
I always try to recycle and reuse stuffs around the house, even clothes that the kids have grown out of. As for the bottles, papers, we have to recycle here in Georgia. Each residence is given a Recycle Bin.
Great hub, and congrats on your HOTD award.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on October 24, 2014:
We recycle as much as we can and also compost. What's interesting is that our recycle bin (that the local waste management company picks up) is full, but our straight-to-the-landfill container has usually 1-2 small bags in it. Composting kitchen scraps has really helped, too.
Voted up, useful and interesting!
Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on October 24, 2014:
I am big on recycling and always looking for ways to recycle more. Great Hub!
David Guion from North Carolina on October 24, 2014:
Excellent choice for HOTD. I'd especially like to underscore no. 6. The answer to "what can one person do" is that it's hardly ever the case that only one person does it. If millions of people recycle, that's a million times the impact of what any one person does. If tens of millions of people recycle, it makes even more difference.
Maggie.L from UK on October 24, 2014:
A really useful and interesting hub. Well done on winning HOTD.
OSBERT JOEL C from CHENNAI on October 24, 2014:
Great and well written eco friendly hub. In our country people use to sell the wastes that can be recycled to the recycling industries.
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on October 24, 2014:
Congrats on HOTD. It's an important topic. I use my recycle bins and I compost kitchen waste. I hope you have encouraged more people to recycle.
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on October 24, 2014:
I was thrilled to see this article in the Hub of the Day column this morning. Congratulations! Well deserved.
Oh yes, we recycle everything possible in our home. I've been recycling all my adult life. In fact, recycling is how I met the man who would become my children's father and my husband for some years. The marriage didn't make it, but I'm still recycling, although I hope I'm recycling less these days, since we do all we can to reduce our consumption of one-use containers.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on October 24, 2014:
Congratulations on HOTD!
There are many forms of recycling and as population increases and resources dwindle, it becomes an increasing concern.
athulnair from India on October 24, 2014:
Even while I buy something, make sure to avoid plastic. By being more cautious we can avoid a lot of plastics.
athulnair from India on October 24, 2014:
In India, we have the habit of selling old newspapers for recycling. We get a fair value for this.
Lynsey Hart from Lanarkshire on October 24, 2014:
In Scotland, the government has actually made it a legal requirement to recycle! You are provided with separate bins as standard, and separating waste has become the norm. As it has been made easier for everyone to recycle, Scotland has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions, and plans are to continue this way, with legal targets being set.
John Hansen from Gondwana Land on October 24, 2014:
This is a very important issue. Thanks for writing a hub about the benefits of recycling. In Australia we only have one State that offers a refund of 10c for return of plastic and glass bottles for instance, but there is a push for it to be introduced everywhere. The same state has banned the use of plastic shopping bags. Voted up.
mySuccess8 on October 24, 2014:
Recycling of wastes, including industrial and household wastes, has been gaining increased public and government interests worldwide, with concerns of limited landfill capacity for solid waste disposal, increased air pollution from incineration of solid wastes, and the need for environmental protection. Your excellent article has covered some of the most critical reasons for household waste recycling,. I have read about government efforts being intensified in many countries for achieving a reasonable recycling rate, which included the declaration of “no plastic” days for supermarkets for certain days of the week, in encouraging customers to recycle and reuse their shopping bags. Congrats on Hub of the Day!
Linda F Correa from Spring Hill Florida on October 24, 2014:
We are huge recyclers in our home. I never throw any paper away without at least 2 uses. I recycle in my craft room, and threw the house. Great hub
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