With an ever-increasing population and continually decreasing resource availability the environment needs all the help it can get. Greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, are believed to be responsible for atmospheric ozone depletion. The reduction in ozone is in turn reported to cause global warming, which many scientists fear could result in catastrophic changes to global weather patterns. Trash production has reached an all time high with landfills filling quicker than new ones can be created. Forests are being cut down faster than new trees can grow.
Recycling can reverse these cataclysmic trends by eliminating waste in many forms. While progress has been made to stem the tide of pollution and overuse of resources, the environment remains one of the biggest challenges facing the world today. To address the problem of pollution everyone must work together and one of the most effective ways to reduce pollution and help the environment is through recycling.
Recycling and Reusing
The difference between reusing and recycling is worth understanding. While both involve the collecting of materials that are normally considered refuse, reusing is as simple as cleaning and reusing old products, like refilling the same water bottle or an empty computer ink cartridge. Recycling is more involved, requiring breaking done the elements of old products, like the plastics found in computers, to raw materials and then manufacturing new goods.
The amount of energy needed to produce new goods is much greater than that used for recycling. Harvesting and manufacturing new materials requires many more hours of manpower and consumption of resources, like fossil fuels, than recycling existing materials.
Doing Business with the Right Companies
Consumers should seek out companies that have established green practices whenever possible. Green practices aim to decrease the environmental impact of manufacturing new goods and constructing new building by using recycled materials wherever possible. By supporting green companies and shunning those that don’t support protecting the environment consumers can put pressure on the latter to join the ranks of the former.
Think Before You Toss
Before you throw anything into the trash ask yourself if it is recyclable. Technology has now evolved to the point where most objects made from both natural and synthetic materials can be recycled or reused. All those plastic bottles that would otherwise end up in a landfill can be made into building materials for new construction, saving millions of trees from being cut down for lumber.
In the U.S. alone as much as 99 percent of fibers used to manufacture paper comes from trees. On average, each American uses over 700 pounds of paper every year, making the U.S. the largest paper consumer in the world. Recycling just one ton of paper saves 17 mature trees, 7,000 gallons of water, 79 gallons of oil and over 45 million BTUs of energy.
Because it lasts virtually forever and is relatively inexpensive to produce, plastic has become the number one manufacturing material in the world. Recycling just one ton of plastic saves 8-cubic yards of landfill space and recycling just two pounds of plastic can save up to13,000 BTUs of energy. Without question, placing every plastic container you come into contact with in the recycling bin is the single simplest thing you can do to help the environment.