Recycling is the process of taking a product at the end of its useful life and using all or part of it to make another product. The internationally recognized symbol for recycling includes three arrows moving in a triangle. Each arrow represents a different part of the recycling process, from collection to re-manufacture to resale.
Recycling is one of the most feel-good and useful environmental practices available to us. The benefits go way beyond reducing piles of garbage – recycling protects habitat and biodiversity, and saves energy, water, and resources such as trees and metal ores. Recycling also reduces pollution emissions from manufacturing, land filling and incinerating.
Green Avenger Fast Facts
The U.S. currently recycles 32.5% of its waste, compared with about 5% in 1970.
According to the EPA, recycling cuts global warming pollution by the equivalent of removing 39.6 million passenger cars from the road.
Before 1973, no curbside recycling programs existed in the United States. By 2006, about 8,660 curbside programs had sprouted up across the nation.
31% of plastic soft drink bottles, 45% of aluminum cans and 67% of all major appliances are now recycled.
Less than half of all post-consumer paper discarded in the United States is recovered for recycling.
Only 13% of water bottles are recycled. In 2005, Americans purchased 30 billion water bottles, and 26 billion of them wound up in landfills.
Airports and airlines recycle less than 20% of the 425,000 tons of passenger-related waste they produce each year.
Purchase paper and other products for your home and office that are made with post-consumer recycled content and packaged in recyclable materials. Buy in bulk to reduce the amount of packaging that gets thrown away.
Convenience is key.
Set a convenient place aside to store and sort your recyclables.
Sort recyclables daily.
If you stay on top of it, recycling will only take a couple of minutes a day instead of an hour or two the night before pick up or haul away day.
You no longer have to rinse your cans or remove bottle labels. This saves time and water energy!
Use rechargeable batteries.
Non-rechargeable batteries leak toxins over time, so even if you choose to use these, please find a way to keep them out of landfills by utilizing hazardous waste facilities or community collection events.
Make waste an endangered species.
Bring your own reusable bags to local stores. Keep a ceramic mug for water or coffee at work rather than using disposable paper or plastic foam cups.
One of the best ways to recycle is to cut down on the trash you take on in the first place. Junk mail is one of those sources. OPT OUT HERE.
Buy recycled products.
This is one of the best ways to remove tree and plastic byproducts from the waste stream.
Don't forget to reuse.
Paper, plastic, glass and cans aren't the only items that should be diverted from incinerators and landfills. Reduce the environmental impacts of organic waste by composting food scraps and by leaving short grass clippings on lawns to decompose. Donate old clothing to homeless shelters, thrift stores, animal shelters and other community organizations. Take advantage of manufacturer take-back programs for your unwanted electronics.