Everyone occasionally feels weighed down by the rules of recycling, but is it worth the time and effort? Absolutely.
Dear Recyclebank:I’ve been a supporter of recycling for years, but the more I learn about what is and is not accepted by recycling firms, the more I feel it’s a waste of time. Is it really worth it? –Keith H.
Dear Keith: Yes! It is completely worth it, but you already knew that. Recycling is a responsibility. It not only cuts back on the amount of trash that ends up at the landfill, it also saves energy and natural resources, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the waste we trash is sent to landfills, which can contaminate groundwater and release the equivalent of nearly a quarter of the world’s methane gas. Some of our trash is sent to incinerators, which produce nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide — the two main ingredients of smog. When we consider the beneficial environmental impacts of recycling, it’s clearly worth the effort.
But it’s true that as you learn more and more about recycling contamination, it can seem like it’s too difficult to make it worthwhile. If you’re overwhelmed with the rules of recycling, just start simple. First, identify the materials that are accepted by the recycling center you use most. If your town has a curbside recycling program, visit their website to see what they will take. These sites often have convenient recycling guides that you can print out and tape to your recycling bin for reference. If your town doesn’t offer curbside recycling, call your local drop-off center to speak with a representative to see what they accept.
Generally, local recycling programs take the most common materials, like tin and aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, and glass and plastic containers. According to National Geographic, it takes 95% less energy to make a can from recycled aluminum than from virgin ore, so each can you recycle counts!