The Benefits of Recycling

Recycling is one of the best ways to help save our environment. It helps to reduce pollutants that harm the planet, including toxic chemicals that can leach into water and soil or trap heat in our atmosphere, causing global warming. It also helps to preserve our natural resources by saving energy that would have otherwise been used to produce new products or raw materials.

In the best scenario, recycled products and materials are remanufactured into the same product or material as they were originally made from. For example, used office paper is reprocessed into new paper and polystyrene foam is reprocessed into new polystyrene. But this is not always possible or economical, so some products are recycled into new materials that serve a different purpose, such as metals being converted into new aluminum and steel or wood into paperboard.

The primary goal of recycling is to preserve our natural resources, because most of the world’s natural materials are non-renewable and cannot be replaced. By reducing the need to use raw materials, we can lessen the drain on our planet’s finite supplies of coal, oil and minerals and reduce air pollution by cutting back on the production of chemical-based products.

A common misconception is that recycling requires a lot of raw materials and energy to process. In reality, however, the amount of energy needed to recycle a single metal can is only about half as much as it takes to produce a brand-new metal can from raw materials. In addition, the processing of a recycled plastic bottle or container only consumes about a third as much electricity as producing the same container from new raw materials.

Many people are not aware that recycling is a key part of the green movement, but there are a number of things that can be done to encourage more of it. For instance, a recent study showed that block leaders can be a powerful force in increasing recycling among neighbors by making personal contact with their fellow residents and encouraging them to participate. In fact, the study found that blocks with active block leaders had significantly higher rates of participation than those that did not.

It is also important to correctly sort recyclables to ensure that they end up in the right place. A good rule of thumb is to combine items that can be recycled together, such as aluminum cups and jars, glass bottles and jars, and paper and cardboard containers. This way they are all placed in the same bin when being collected for recycling and can be sorted together at the recycling center. Lastly, make sure to remove any food waste or other liquids from the containers and don’t forget to include the lids! Doing your part can be as simple as practicing good habits at home, or volunteering to start a recycling program at work, school or the gym. The most important thing, however, is to lead by example — nothing encourages others to recycle more than seeing that you do so yourself.

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