Recycling and cleaning up litter in our communities is more important than ever. Not only does it help to preserve the environment and protect wildlife, but it also has a significant impact on our economy and the overall health and well-being of our communities.
First and foremost, recycling conserves natural resources. By recycling paper, for example, we can save trees, water and energy. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, recycling one ton of paper saves 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water, and enough energy to power the average American home for six months. Similarly, recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy needed to produce new aluminum from raw materials. And recycling plastic can save up to 84% of the energy needed to produce new plastic.
Recycling also helps to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. This not only helps to conserve space in landfills but also helps to reduce the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is released when organic materials break down in landfills. According to the EPA, recycling and composting programs in the United States prevented the release of over 183 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2014.
In addition to the environmental benefits, recycling also has a positive impact on our economy. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, recycling creates jobs and stimulates economic growth. In fact, for every job created by landfilling, recycling creates ten jobs. And for every job created by exporting waste, recycling creates 36 jobs.
But recycling is just one piece of the puzzle. Cleaning up litter in our communities is also critical for maintaining a healthy and beautiful environment. Litter not only harms wildlife, but it also harms our health. According to the Coastal Studies Institute, litter can contaminate water and soil, which can lead to the spread of disease and illness. And according to Keep America Beautiful, litter can also lower property values and discourage tourism.
So, what can we do to be more proactive about recycling and cleaning up litter in our communities? One of the most important things we can do is to educate ourselves and others about the importance of recycling and litter prevention. We can also make a difference by properly disposing of our waste, recycling when possible and participating in community clean-up events.
Another way to make a difference is to support policies and programs that promote recycling and litter prevention. Some examples include curbside recycling programs, pay-as-you-throw trash programs, and bottle deposit laws.
Recycling and cleaning up litter in our communities is not only important for preserving the environment and protecting wildlife, but it also has a significant impact on our economy and the overall health and well-being of our communities. By educating ourselves and others, properly disposing of our waste, participating in community clean-up events, and supporting policies and programs that promote recycling and litter prevention, we can all make a difference and help to create a cleaner and more sustainable future.
“Benefits of Recycling” Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/recycling/benefits-recycling
“The Economic Benefits of Recycling and Composting” Institute for Local Self-Reliance. https://ilsr.org/economic-benefits-recycling-composting/
“Litter Prevention” Coastal Studies Institute. https://www.coastalstudiesinstitute.org/programs/litter-prevention
“Litter in America” Keep America Beautiful. https://www.kab.org/our-impact/litter-in-america
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