The Negatives of Recycling?
Recycling is nothing new, but it has gained prominence in recent years, as people have become more conscious about trying to help the environment. Furthermore, recycling is a good thing when done right; unfortunately, many people are not recycling correctly, while others have the wrong idea about what it really means to recycle.
One of the key mission statements of the environmental movement remains the three-pronged phrase: “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” Thus, the first step to proper recycling reducing the quantity of items that need to be recycled, followed by finding ways to reuse certain items as opposed to tossing them in a trash can or recycling bin automatically. In short, if people make a conscious effort to reduce what they use and then reuse items whenever and however possible, then the amount of products we need to recycle will be greatly diminished.
The idea of recycling has been around for a couple of generations now. There are nearly 12,000 recycling programs in the United States, and they’ve mostly arisen in the past 30-40 years. However, many people still wonder whether recycling is worth the effort. Are we really saving energy? With the growing size of old-school landfills, have people really embraced recycling? And most importantly, are all of our efforts to recycle really helping the environment, when in essence, shouldn’t we just learn to use less?
Cons to recycling:
- It may take more energy to recycle a given product than it did to make it originally.
- Recycling is hard work for the consumer, don’t let anyone fool you into thinking recycling is an easy task. Before containers can be recycled, they must be washed clean and the labels need to be removed. This uses up more energy in the form of water used and heating the water for the washing. Also, it takes extra gas in the car to make recycling trips
- Some plastic bottles and materials (like wrappers, for example) cannot be recycled, and some people do not know the difference. Only clean plastic bottles are recyclable. Not only that, but some recycling centers will not recycled certain plastics such as Polyvinyl Chloride (3) or Polystyrene (6) as these are typically non-recyclable plastics.
- Not everyone knows that you cannot recycle electronics at the normal recycling centers because of certain heavy metals used in the manufacturing of certain electronic products and parts. Instead, the consumer will have to find special E-Cycling facility, which means more gas use and more recycling trips.
- It costs a substantial amount of energy and time to recycle paper products properly. The recycling industry requires more water and certain expensive chemicals to remove the ink from paper so that the product can then be recycled.
Pros of Recycling:
Many people are making a concerted effort to recycle, and these efforts do help the environment. Recycling means that a lot less waste is going into our landfill, and less recycling means less money spent on new products.
Recycling decreases the amount of raw materials harvested from the environment needed to manufacture new products. When glass is recycled, it is reconstituted as sand, road building materials, decorator bricks and similar products. When plastic is recycled, it is made into items like carpets and plastic wood-like products such as decking materials, clothing materials, and fencing.
It takes a lot less energy to recycle plastic then it does to make new plastic containers.
Recycling is not the first thing that needs to be done to make a difference for our environment.
The first thing that needs to be done is to reduce the need to buy so much of a given product. Everyone should then try to reuse items as much as possible to recycle, whether as the same product or in a different mode.
Thinking of creative ways to reuse as much paper as possible in the home can be a rewarding challenge. Shredded paper can be used for packing and mailing fragile items. Newspapers and old magazines make for unique gift wrapping options. Reuse paper with writing only on one side when possible. Use paper as compost. Put only leftover paper into the recycling bin. You can also get your kids involved and try making crafts and other activities out of recyclable materials.
Try to get rid of recycling as much as possible by purchasing groceries that don’t require lots of extraneous packaging. Buying in bulk is a good way cut down on packaging (and the food is typically fresher and tastes better). We all know that using reusable shopping bags helps cut down on waste plastic, but did you know you can also use reusable produce bags as another way to cut back on your plastic use? There are also reusable sandwich and snack bags currently on the market to help you cut back on packaging waste.