By Tania Longeau
Recycling is important. If you are reading this article, chances are you already know that. You may not know, however, exactly why it’s so important. Sure, it is a great way to divert waste away from overflowing landfills that are already bursting at the seams, but it does so much more than that. From preserving the environment for future generations to creating jobs in the here and now, recycling has a wide range of short term and long term benefits. Let’s take a closer look at what recycling is and why it’s so important.
What Is Recycling?
Recycling is simply taking used materials and turning them into something new. Recyclable materials are taken to facilities where they are sorted, cleaned, and processed back into their original form. Things like paper and plastic, for example, are shredded and turned into pulp or melted down to create raw materials that can be used to make new products.
All sorts of things can be recycled. There are commonmaterials that everyone thinks of, such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal, but there are other items that many people don’t realize can be recycled. Inkjet cartridges, tires, and even old computers are a few examples. In recent years, many states have enacted laws prohibiting people from sending electronic devices, also known as e-waste, to landfills. This means that, for things like computers, televisions, cell phones, and even your old toaster, recycling is the only legal means of disposal.
Short Term Benefits of Recycling
When disposed of in landfills, things like plastic can take thousands of years to break down. That doesn’t mean, though, that the benefits of recycling can only be seen in the future. When you recycle, you are making a positive impact on the world in which you live today in several ways.
Keep Toxic Chemicals Out of the Environment
Things like computers, inkjet cartridges, and cell phones are manufactured using heavy metals and toxic chemicals. When they make their way into landfills, they leach toxins into the soil. Those toxins can contaminate groundwater, destroy ecosystems, and have a negative impact on both humans and wildlife. When some of these items are exposed to heat, they can release toxic chemicals into the air, too, causing damage to the atmosphere.
By recycling, you can ensure that you are not contributing to this all-too-common problem. Sending your recyclables to recycling facilities ensures that they are processed appropriately and do not end up breaking down in landfills.
Recycling Creates Jobs
Recycling facilities have powerful equipment that helps them sort and process materials. They still need people to operate that equipment, though. Manpower is also required to pick out non-recyclable materials and ensure that everything goes to the right place. When you recycle, you are helping create jobs for people in your own community. This can help lower unemployment rates and provide people with access to jobs that pay living wages, health insurance, andother benefits, etc.
Building Stronger Communities
Did you know that many charities and organizations raise money through recycling programs? Some work with recycling facilities and receive money for recyclables that they collect. Schools often accept inkjet and toner cartridges for recycling and receive a small amount of money for each when they send them in for recycling.
Donating your unused clothing and household items to charitable organizations is a form of recycling, too. When you donate to your local thrift store or the Salvation Army, they often resell them to raise money to fund their operations. The funds raised may also be used in community outreach programs.
Long-Term Benefits of Recycling
Recycling whenever possible helps protect the environment and preserve our planet for future generations. Trash is, quite literally, taking over the world. By recycling, you can reduce your contribution to this serious problem.
Recycling Conserves Natural Resources
Recycling materials and reusing them to make new products conserves natural resources like timber, water, and oil. It limits the amount of mining and extraction that needs to be done to remove raw materials from the earth. Using recycled materials to manufacture products is a sustainable alternative to constantly make new products.
Minimize Global Warming
During the waste disposal process, greenhouse gases like sulfur, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen are produced as the result of combining massive amounts of waste. The recycling process requires minimal combustion and makes it possible to create reusable materials with little environmental impact. The entire process of recycling and making new products from recycled materials emits very few greenhouse gases because the facilities involved use fewer fossil fuels.
Cut Down on Waste in Landfills
Overflowing landfills are a huge problem. Landfills are major causes of environmental degradation. The fuller they are, the worse the problem becomes. Choked landfill sites cause ground and water pollution, destroy nearby ecosystems, and can cause a wide range of health problems. Recycling keeps waste out of landfills.
Recycling is important for numerous reasons. From creating jobs and building strong communities to fighting back against global warming and protecting our dwindling natural resources, it provides a wide range of both short term and long term benefits. As more and more communities embrace recycling, it is becoming increasingly easy to incorporate into your own life. Many cities have curbside recycling pick-up services, and others have recycling bins in centralized locations where you can drop off your waste. There are also all sorts of programs that allow you to mail in things like inkjet cartridges and old electronics.
If you want to recycle but are not sure how to get started or where to take your recyclables, Earth911 provides helpful resources for locating facilities and making recycling part of your family’s lifestyle. We only have one Earth. Start recycling to make the world a better place today and to protect the planet for future generations.
Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. She is a happily married mother of one who enjoys spending time with her family and reading in her leisure hours.