Recycling is one of the best environmental success stories of the late 20th century. Recycling, including composting, diverted nearly 70 million tons of material away from landfills and incinerators in 2000, up from 34 million tons in 1990—doubling in just 10 years. Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. Collecting recyclable materials is just the first step in a series of actions that generate a host of financial, environmental, and societal returns. There are several key benefits to recycling.
· Protects and expands U.S. manufacturing jobs and increases U.S. competitiveness in the global marketplace.
· Reduces the need for landfilling and incineration.
· Saves energy and prevents pollution caused by the extraction and processing of virgin materials and the manufacture of products using virgin materials.
· Decreases emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
· Conserves natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
· Helps sustain the environment for future generations.
Recycling not only makes sense from an environmental standpoint, but also makes good financial sense.
Key economic benefits include:
· significant energy savings compared to production with virgin materials
· reduced waste disposal costs
· 1.1 million recycling jobs with a $37 billion annual payroll
Environmental Protection Agency
Summary of Highlights from the National Recycling Economic Information Project
Anti-Recycling Myths: Commentary on "Recycling is Garbage"
John Tierney, New York Times Magazine, June 30, 1996
Approximately 230 million tons of municipal solid waste or garbage is generated each year. This means that each person generates an average of 4.6 pounds of solid waste per day! Here are some ideas for reducing your impact:
1. Reduce the amount of packaging. When choosing between two similar products, select the one with the least unnecessary packaging, or buy in bulk.
2. Adopt practices that reduce waste toxicity. Look for home and lawn care products with few, if any, toxic chemicals.
3. Buy reusable products, such as travel mugs, cloth napkins and rechargeable batteries.
4. Maintain and repair durable products. Consider long-lasting, durable appliances, electronic equipment and tires with good warranties and a high rate of customer satisfaction.
5. Reuse paper/plastic bags, scrap paper, glass/paper containers, shipping packaging, and other items.
6. Borrow, rent, or share items used infrequently, such as power tools, party supplies, and audiovisual equipment.
7. Sell or donate goods instead of throwing them out. Donate them to a local thrift store, or hold a garage sale.
8. Choose products and containers that are recyclable in your area. Upper Valley recycling options are listed at the top of our "Recycle" page.
9. Read labels to select products made from the highest amount of recycled materials, such as bottles, cans, cereal boxes, office paper and many other everyday items.
10. Compost yard trimmings and some food scraps. If you have a yard, allow mown grass clippings to remain on the lawn to decompose and return nutrients back to the soil, rather than bagging and disposing of them. Check your local library for "how-to" guides.
11. Educate others on source reduction and recycling practices. Make your preferences known to manufacturers, merchants, and community leaders. Urge schools to provide environmental education and to teach about source reduction, recycling, and composting.
12. Be creative - find new ways to reduce waste quantity and toxicity. Place an an order through the mail with a group of people in order to save money and reduce packaging waste, or turn a giant cardboard box into a child's playhouse.
Environmental Protection Agency – Consumer Handbook for Reducing Solid Waste In-depth information about the 12 guidelines listed above.
National Waste Prevention Coalition
Offers extensive links to waste reduction and reuse sites, including how to reduce junk mail.
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