You know that you should recycle but do you really know what the benefits of recycling are? The benefits of recycling include both environmental and economic benefits.
- Reduces trash. When you recycle, that’s one less item going to the landfill. If you have ever had the misfortune of being in a landfill, you know know that they are smelly, dirty and disease-ridden places. Landfills take up areas that could be used for more productive uses, such as farming, manufacturing and housing. Waste takes a long time to decompose, during which toxic gases are produced. The toxic gases,which include methane and carbon dioxide, not only smell bad but pose a health risk Methane is highly explosive. Trapped carbon dioxide can cause nausea and vomiting and even asphyxiation.
- Reduces pollution. Landfills not only pollute the land in which they sit but they also pollute the water and air. Sometimes, waste from a landfill spills into groundwater because of leakage from improper maintenance. Landfill gas is composed of 45 to 60 percent methane and 40 to 60 percent carbon dioxide, both of which contribute to global warming.
- Conserve the environment. Another benefit of recycling is that it reduces the need to use natural resources to make new products. Every piece of paper that you recycle reduces the need to cut down another tree to make new paper. Trees produce oxygen, which we all need to survive, and are valuable habitats to animals all over the world. The Amazon, home to many endangered species such as jaguars, harpy eagles and pink dolphins, is expected to lose 55 percent of its rainforests by 2030 if current rates of consumption continue. The more plastic and glass bottles are recycled, the less oil and sand are needed to make new bottles.
- Supporting businesses. Recycling helps support the recycling business, which employs a large number of people and leads to economic growth. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, sorting and processing recyclables provides 10 times more jobs than land filling. In 1995, North Carolina’s recycling industry provided 8,700 jobs. While some jobs in waste hauling and land filling were lost, it was small compared to the amount of jobs gained. For every 100 recycling jobs gained, 10 waste and 3 timber jobs were lost.
- Making money. While you won’t be able to quit your day job, recycling gives you a bit of pocket change. Many cities have recycling centers where you can bring plastic, aluminum and glass bottles for money, usually around 5 cents for each one.