Why and how differentiation and recycling is better than simple waste?
It may seem like a lot of effort to recycle things. When you consider the state of the planet and the amount of trash generated by humans – trash that is not organic in nature and will not break down over time into things that can be reused by the ecosystem – it starts to make a lot of sense to recycle.
Every person in the United States generates, on average, four-point-four pounds of solid waste each day. Think about that a moment- that adds up to over a ton per person each year. And every ton we throw away cost money to get rid of. If you are sending that ton of trash to the landfill it cost you 50 dollars. If you send that ton of trash to the incinerator it cost 65 to 75 dollars. This is per year- per person- money being thrown away. You might be thinking though that it is not that much. And you might be betting that recycling costs more than either of those methods. Recycling a ton of trash actually saves you money- it only cost, on average, 30 dollars per ton to recycle.
Not sold on recycling yet?
How about this: a ton of paper recycled, keeps seventeen trees standing which will take two hundred and fifty pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air each year. It saves three hundred and eighty gallons of oil from being used, and opens up three cubic yards from the landfill. Over four thousand kilowatts of energy (64% less power is used to recycle paper then to make new paper) and seven thousand gallons of water (58% less for recycling paper then making new) are saved. Not to mention that sixty pounds of air polluting chemicals are not released into the air when paper is recycled. Throwing that paper into an incinerator releases fifteen hundred pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.
How about the easiest thing to recycle: the humble aluminum can. Did you know that each can recycled saves half a gallon of gasoline? Think about that. The energy saved from recycling aluminum alone is huge and we all recycle those cans, right? Maybe the next time you go to toss a can into the trash you will remember the four dollars you put into your car – each can is worth half that in saved gas… What about steel? Tin? Yes all those types of metal can be recycled. The steel we do recycle saves enough power each year to heat and light eighteen million homes. Yet there is still more we can and should recycle.
To recycle glass is just common sense. It can be recycled over and over. If you just recycle one glass jar or bottle you can run a 100-watt light for 4 hours, save 20% on air pollution, and 50% on water pollution. Even mixing half recycled glass into half raw materials reduces waste by 80%, so why do we persist in throwing away enough glass to fill a skyscraper each month?