Is recycling worth it?

Categories: How To
Published on: July 16, 2016

Mother Earth News / Joanna Poncavage / February/March 2015

recycling-centerSo, is recycling worth it? In short, yes. But, to keep it effective, the way we think about waste must shift away from mindless consumption. Even as we’re recycling more, we’re creating more garbage — 4.38 pounds per person per day in 2012, up 63 percent from 2.68 pounds in 1960. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the total amount of garbage for the same period increased by 183 percent, from 88.1 million tons in 1960 to 251 million tons in 2012.

To cut back on most materials, adopt a BYOC mentality: Bring Your Own Containers, such as cloth sacks or glass jars, to grocery stores for transporting produce, bulk foods, and meats and cheeses from the deli counter. Take containers to restaurants for carting home leftovers. Purchase reusable drink canisters. Try your hand at making your own condiments, body care concoctions and cleaning products. Read on to find extra reduction tips for when you can’t cut consumption.

When you do recycle, keep in mind that some substances are more worthwhile to recycle than others, depending on the energy required to extract the raw material, and the environmental footprint the substance leaves behind. Following is a list of materials, information about the worth of recycling each one, and tips for how to follow the Three R’s in the right order: reduce, reuse, and, finally, recycle.

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