The world’s population exceeded 7 billion late last year and continues to grow at a rate of 212, 035 every day. The earth’s ability to sustain our growing population is reaching capacity. Resources are stretched to breaking point and the ability to process the waste that so much humanity produces places further strain on our environment. With increased consumption and pollution, recycling has become all the more important.
Recycling and disposing of waste responsibly helps to conserve our resources and the environment. Recycling materials from our homes and building sites reduces the consumption of natural resources such as trees, fossil fuels and metals. For example, making aluminum products from recycled materials saves 95% of the energy and pollution it would take to manufacture them from bauxite.
Recycling reduces landfill usage and costs for local governments. It creates jobs and local revenue for those who work in the industry. But just how much energy does recycling save? A UK study claims that a recycled tin can will save enough energy to power a TV for 3 hours. A glass bottle; enough to power a computer for 25 minutes and recycling a plastic bottle will save the energy used to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours. When using recycled paper to create new paper products rather than raw materials, 70% less energy is used.
For every job at a landfill site, recycling creates 10 jobs at the depot and 25 jobs in recycling-based manufacturing. In the US, more people are employed by the recycling industry than work in the auto industry. Not only does recycling reduce waste and create employment, it also saves energy. By recycling 30% of its waste, the US saves 11.9 billions of gallons of gas every year. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is the equivalent of taking 25 million cars off the road.
Used appliances and building materials take up valuable space in landfills. Landfills have their own drawbacks; taking up space, releasing noxious gases into the atmosphere and leaching effluents into the surrounding groundwater. Much of the materials used in a home or business can be recycled. When the City of Orlando tore down its NBA basketball arena, the demolition crew focused on recycling or reusing as much of the materials as possible. Fixtures and furniture was donated or sold while aluminum, copper, drywall and steel were recycled. Concrete was ground down and used in the construction of roads and since 50% of the materials were recycled, massive savings on the new building were made possible by reclamation efforts.
If you are considering renovations or reconstruction, try to reuse or recycle as much of your building project as possible. Fixtures and building materials can be donated to Habitat for Humanity. While some of these materials are utilized in the building of homes, excess supplies are sold at their ReStore resale outlets.
Homeowners who switch to Energy Star efficient appliances need not send their old appliances to the landfill. Donate working appliances to charitable organizations. Contact your local municipality for information on recycling schemes in your area. For example, non-profit group Summerhill’s Mow down Pollution Campaign provides incentives to people who take their old four and two-stroke mowers out of circulation in lieu of cleaner alternatives.
Local governments and municipalities run many of their own reclamation projects like Toronto’s saveONenergy scheme which will collect your geriatric refrigerator for free and give you coupons to reduce the cost of a new, greener alternative. Whatever you need to get rid of, there is usually someone who can turn it into something of value. Do your homework and reuse, reduce and recycle wherever possible.