A lot of people have heard the green mantra, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but they still don’t understand the importance of recycling has in the grand scheme of things. They don’t understand how recycling works and how recycling could benefit them personally. Nor do they understand how recycling benefits others on a social and economic level.
Some people even believe that it’s not necessary at all, either because we have enough resources to go around, or because it’s simply more convenient to throw something away and get another than to re-use the item.
So think about it this way, for starters: there are only so many resources available on this Earth. There are finite numbers of trees, rare and common earth metals, petroleum, water, and the like. Our populations are growing all around the world, demand for resources continues to grow and grow, yet the resources are not growing. If we continue to consume them at the rate that we are going, we will at some point run out of resources to produce the things we need and want–and in some cases, such as forests, consuming them entirely would have disastrous effects on the planet.
Naysayers will say “oh, but we’ll find increasingly efficient ways to extract and use resources, so they’ll never run out.” Come on. There are only so many drops of water on the planet, so many barrels of oil, only X number of trees. You can figure out how to cut a tree eight ways instead of four, but you’ll still end up with one less tree.
Let’s not forget also that the places we gather resources from also happen to be the habitats for countless animals and plants–many of which are being endangered, slaughtered, or driven to extinction in the service of our insatiable appetite for more resources.
When we throw otherwise recyclable products into the garbage, they end up in landfills – slowly breaking down, often poisoning the land and waterways with the noxious chemicals that are emitted when they decompose. These products then, become a total waste of resources- inaccessible and unusable.
The importance of recycling is that we stop the cycle of waste, while encouraging a culture of conservation and respect for our planet’s resources and precious wildlife. Think about the bounty we can reap from the metal, glass, plastic, and other items we so often just toss away without a second thought.
Metals which otherwise would have to be mined (often at great environmental cost by way of strip mining and the like) can be reused in other metal products. Cars, tin cans, steel bars, and more are all metals which might have simply been thrown in the landfill but that can be recovered and recycled to help build a new, greener planet.
How about plastic? Plastics can be made into other plastic products–even clothing–with less energy consumed to produce that recycled product. Better yet, we rely less on petroleum that is becoming increasingly expensive.
What role does paper play in the importance of recycling? Paper products which are recycled are turned into other paper products. This practice prevents deforestation and also the leeching of toxic inks into the soil. Many companies which provide ink for printers and copiers have made the switch to non-toxic ink which means that even office paper can now be recycled or put into your composter. And recycled paper products no longer have that grayish yellow appearance that they had back in the 1990’s.
Recycled glass is fantastic. It can be turned into other glass products – or combined with metals and other products to create new flooring. How about countertops? Check out these amazing recycled glass countertops.
Wood is given another chance at life. Building companies used to just toss lumber, metal and wiring from a demolition into the landfill. More and more companies are now taking those old beams and other parts to a recycling depot. Other companies will strip anything from old barns to sunken boats to recover and repurpose wood, in some cases rare wood that cannot be found today (or that is very costly). In this way, people can enjoy the gorgeous beauty of repurposed wood for everything from wood beams to flooring plans to furniture, often at a fraction of the cost of new high-quality wood.
How about rubber? Rubber tires used to be a major problem when it came time to change them and dispose of them. Made up of toxic chemicals, these items were frequently the cause of noxious tire fires in 30 foot high tire yards. With innovation, these tires are being converted into recycled rubber flooring. This flooring is a great non-slip surface which is both easy on the back and knees, making it a great choice for the home and the professional kitchen. Best of all, no more rubber trees are being destroyed to make new tires; many tires now are being made from recycled rubber and reinforced with steel cable.
Are you getting the picture about why recycling is important? It allows us to use a finite quantity of resources over and over again, it lessens the burden of resource gathering and waste on the planet, and it often allows us to keep enjoying the beauty and luxuries of the world’s natural bounty without harming the environment. There is no excuse whatsoever not to recycle everything you can, and to convince everyone around you to do the same.
Want a more graphic perspective on the importance of recycling? Check out this moving video.