In a world where we're faced with dwindling natural resources, overflowing landfills and plastic in our oceans, recycling has become almost second nature.
Recycling may have become a way of life – but why exactly do we recycle? Why is recycling good for the environment? What are the benefits of recycling? What are the benefits of recycling paper, specifically? What are the benefits of recycling metals? Who does it benefit, and how? Are there any direct benefits to you?
The Earth's natural resources are finite. Recycling preserves valuable natural resources for the good and longevity of the planet. It also ensures we can continue to live the way we are accustomed to.
The more we recycle, the less we need to disrupt and damage the natural world, including habitats. If fewer forests are being cut down and fewer rivers are being diverted, less wild animals are being harmed or displaced in the process.
In the search for new materials, it is often the poorest and most vulnerable people who end up being displaced from their homes. Communities living around forests or river systems can find themselves evicted in the search for cheap timber.
If plastic waste isn't safely recycled, it can be blown or washed into rivers and oceans, where it can harm wildlife and pollute coastlines and waterways. Recycling plastic safeguards our health and major food sources, and protects wildlife in their natural environment.
Recycling metal means there is less need for expensive, dangerous and harmful extraction of new materials. Aluminium is generally considered to be a metal – see number 6 to find out: what the benefits of recycling aluminium are.
Making products from recycled materials requires less energy than creating them from raw materials. Sometimes the difference is immense, for example producing new aluminium from recycled cans and foil uses 95% less energy than starting from scratch.
Trees take years to grow but can be chopped down in just minutes. That's why planting new trees isn't enough – we also need to recycle. Making paper from pulped recycled paper uses 40% less energy than creating paper from virgin wood fibres.
Recycling has created a wealth of new jobs, in the recycling industry itself and in manufacturing. Some stores contain entire lines of merchandise made from recycled goods, showcasing the benefits of recycling at a more local level.
Let's move away from the wider benefits of recycling and focus on the direct benefits to you and your family. Upcycling furniture, recycling old fabrics into throws and tablecloths, shopping at second hand stores, reusing containers, using food scraps as compost – these are all great ways to recycle and save money.
Simply put, doing good makes you feel good. Save the planet, be happy.
While recycling is a great way to reduce to amount of waste we produce, the best thing we can do is to reduce how much we use in the first place. Reduce, reuse, recycle – if everyone did this, imagine the impact we could have on the wellbeing of our planet?