We’re always taught in school and the workplace: “reduce, reuse, recycle”. With that said, what are the benefits of recycling to the environment? How can reusing an old product help Mother Nature in the long run?
If you want to know what makes recycling a great initiative towards going green, we wrote this article to give you detailed reasons. After all, we all want to do our part to help the environment. Recycling isn’t that costly so even if you’re in a poorer sector of your country or state, you don’t have to break the bank to help the environment.
So, you want to find out how recycling helps the environment in general? Here are the benefits of reducing, reusing, and recycling to Mother Earth.
Saving natural resources for future use
Our world isn’t getting younger. Alongside that, we’re also running out of resources that we need to give to our future generations, especially with the continuous population growth among countries. Here’s how recycling will help lessen the consumption of natural resources:
1. Forests will last longer
Our basic science lessons taught us to plant trees to conserve our forests and that we shouldn’t take down trees too much unless truly necessary. Therefore, if you recycle paper, cartons, and any product that comes from trees, you’re saving forests, especially the virgin forests from remote areas.
2. Less need for mining ores
Mining has always been frowned upon by environmentalists. Not only is mining a dangerous job but it also depletes the world’s sources. Mining is only in limited amounts and isn’t sustainable as planting trees or fruits in the garden. Therefore, recycling metals will help reduce the need for mining ores and depleting the world’s sources.
3. Fewer plastics in dumpsites
A common problem that many countries face is the lack of dumpsites to take care of their trash. Most plastic isn’t biodegradable and that’s a problem not only for humans but also for wildlife and ecosystems. If you conserve the plastic you currently have, companies won’t have to produce a ton of plastic anymore.
4. Slows down fossil fuel consumption
Fossil fuel comes from limited sources so they’re not sustainable, just like mining ores. If you don’t keep buying items for a while and recycle what you have, companies don’t have to expend power through the usage of fossil fuels too much. When less fossil fuel is consumed, they’re conserved for future use. Also, less fossil fuel burning means less greenhouse effect, which also means less likelihood of global warming worsening.
5. Recycling glass produces sand
If you keep your broken glass jars and containers and send them to a production facility, they could turn your items into usable sand, which will be used to create other products. Sand resources are getting depleted due to popular demand – real sand from the beaches takes years to form so it’s difficult to obtain.
Conserving wildlife and ecosystems
When you recycle your products, you’re saving resources that would be used by plants and animals in the wild. You don’t need to constantly wait to harvest certain plants because you’ve conserved on your raw items. When you recycle paper, you’re giving time for the trees to grow and live a little longer for the other plants and animals around them.
If the forest gets disturbed by constantly cutting down trees, the animals in the wild won’t have a proper place to live. When animals become displaced, they will eventually go extinct and they could even live alongside humans and either cause trouble or get into trouble, causing the species to get endangered.
Disturbing ecosystems is also possible through water pollution from chemical spills from factories. Polluting the waters will result in fishes and marine animals getting severely affected. When plastics and other items aren’t recycled properly, they end up in oceans and get swallowed by whales and dolphins.
Less dependence on raw material production
Recycling materials reduce the need to gather raw materials. Such raw materials are usually obtained from forests and rivers. People and animals that live in these areas won’t have to worry about being displaced. Without having to harvest and gather raw materials from the wilderness, we’re saving communities in remote areas that are living peacefully.
If you want to help out and preserve such communities of people and wildlife sanctuaries, it pays to recycle your items. In this way, companies won’t have to double their production efforts to meet market demands all the time.
For the company, recycled materials will also reduce costs for them in the long run, since they can keep reusing products. However, the method of recycling these products is another topic altogether (e.g. costs of machinery and labor to produce recycled paper, plastic, or metal).
Lower energy costs
When we talk about raw materials and production, we’re also counting on the energy costs. If companies don’t manufacture a lot of products due to the recycling efforts of people, that’s an opportunity for them to cut down on electricity costs.
Given the example in the previous section, while it does cost some machinery and methods to make recycled paper, it’s still a tad cheaper versus creating all-new paper from virgin wood.
Companies that produce steel and aluminum will save more electricity if they grab recycled resources, contrary to creating from scratch. About 40 to 70% of energy will be saved depending on the process and the material, so don’t hesitate to send your unused junk to a local recycling facility!
Creating glass from scratch also costs a lot of energy that’s enough to power a light bulb for up to 4 hours. If you recycle your glass bottle or hand over broken glass pieces to a recycling facility, you’re helping to cut down companies’ energy costs in some way.
Cutting down waste disposal costs
When you recycle, you throw away less garbage and the dumpsites won’t have a problem. They won’t have to pick up the trash too often, cleaning would be easier for street sweepers, and maintaining the dumpsite won’t have to be too costly.
Aside from items, recycling food has many benefits as well. If you choose to cook leftovers differently the next day or use them as backyard fertilizer, this puts less pressure not just on farmers in the agricultural sector but also on the garbage collection facilities, especially if your country or state suffers from excessive food waste problems.
Recycling opens job opportunities
If a company goes with recycling processes, they’ll have to hire manpower, which, in turn, creates more job opportunities. Even if you’re just a machine operator of a setup that turns used paper into recycled paper, you’re doing your part for the environment while also earning a living.
Greenhouse gases and carbon dioxide emissions are the main cause of global warming, which creates a distressful environment for humans, animals, plants, and everything else in this world. That’s why many countries and companies have resorted to lowering their carbon emissions.
Recycling prompts factories to produce fewer products. When you manufacture fewer products, you’ll spend less energy and thus, also limit your carbon emissions to a safe level. As recycling also lessens the waste thrown into dumpsites, fewer harmful chemicals get released into the air, thereby keeping our ozone layer safe.
Incinerating products that are no longer useful is also becoming less of a practice today due to their harmful effects on the ozone layer. If your garbage gets recycled, it won’t have to be burned down too quickly. This is especially true for products made from plastic because when they get incinerated, they’ll emit fumes that aren’t too friendly towards the environment.
Lower the price of raw materials
If you find yourself stuck in a budgeting crisis, recycling is a possible solution to your problems. When companies use recycled materials, they cut down on costs, thereby reducing the price of the product, which, in turn, becomes consumer-friendly, especially if you’re budget-conscious.
Items that are made from sustainable packagings, such as recycled paper, are also better sought-after in today’s market due to being environmentally-conscious, so why not try them out? By supporting sustainable packaging, you’re helping a company conserve raw materials.
Overall, recycling has many benefits to the environment. It will reduce the consumption of natural resources, resulting in fewer displacements of communities and wildlife. It will also be a solution to reduce deforestation and will conserve these trees for future generations. Aside from that, it will also save the environment by keeping species less threatened since companies won’t have to gather raw materials too often.
Recycling is good for saving energy as well since manufacturers don’t have to spend a lot of time working with their machinery. It also gives less trouble to waste disposal facilities while also giving jobs to people as recycling machine operators.
In the long run, recycling also reduces carbon footprint and lowers the price of raw materials. With these plus points, we hope that you’ll continue to get inspired in reducing, reusing, and recycling!
Name: Rebecca Tarvin
Discipline: Integrative biology
Degrees: B.A., Biology, Boston University, 2010; Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin,2017
Rebecca Tarvin is broadly interested in integrating studies of natural history with molecular genomics and phylogenetics. Specifically, she aims to elucidate causal genetic mechanisms underlying novel traits, characterize phenotypic diversification at macro and micro-evolutionary scales, and identify factors that promote and constrain biodiversity.
She also likes to write about eco-friendly lifestyle and other material alternatives that are eco-friendly, aside from other ways to save Mother Earth