Recycling: The Real Cost

Recycling is potentially the easiest, fastest and most radical thing you can do for the benefit of the environment.

Recycling seems so easy. Instead of throwing your paper cup or empty soda can into the trash bin, you instead toss it into the blue bin with the funky arrows. The ease and effort at which we can all recycle, and the seemingly small difference it makes (“It’s just one can!”), belies the true underlying power of recycling.

The True Cost of NOT Recycling

1. Recycling saves energy. It often costs more to manufacture a new product from raw material than it costs to recycle an old product into a new product. For example, recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to provide three hours of power to the computer you’re reading this on. You can feel better about wasting all that time on YouTube now.

2. Recycling saves landfills. Americans generate billions and billions of pounds of solid trash every year, and approximately 70 to 80 percent of that ends up in landfills. But the country is rapidly running out of open landfills. Recycling helps divert as much solid waste out of landfills as possible, saving American soil and space.

3. Recycling creates jobs. And by god, we know how much our economy needs that now. For example, in Ohio, recycling plants generate an annual payroll of approximately $3.6 billion.

Four Easy Recycling Tips

1. Know the rules for your area. Some cities require users to sort their recyclables (e.g., keeping paper items separate from glass items) while other cities let you dump everything into one large bin.

2. Keep your recycle bin easily accessible. For example, if most of your recyclable items pass through your home office, store your bin in your office. By keeping it extremely accessible, you lower the temptation of throwing your items into the nearest trash can.

3. Let others do the recycling for you. When it comes to cans and bottles, many local nonprofits, charities and schools run regular bottle drives where they’ll come to your home and pickup your recyclable items.  Who knew laziness could net you so much good karma?

4. Keep your recycling clean. Many cities have rules for recycling, such as making sure rubber bands don’t end up in your paper recycling bin. Contaminants lower the quality and usefulness of the final recycled material, so do the environment a favor and make sure you’re only recycling what can be recycled.

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Peter Reese's claim to fame is he once met a bodybuilder in California who had once met Arnold Schwarzenegger. A fitness buff, Peter loves educating people about the importance of exercise. His biggest gym pet peeve: people who walk around locker rooms without a towel.

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