When we think of recycling, we usually focus on the immediate benefit of reusing a particular item instead of tossing it into a landfill. We all know that modern society is needlessly wasteful, and we know it behooves us to do our part to limit the production of trash. What we often forget is that recycling helps conserve energy, too. Every time you reuse or recycle an existing material, you do your part to limit energy production around the world. This, in turn, helps reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases and slow the effects of climate change. Here’s a breakdown of why recycling results in decreased energy use.
Avoid the Production of New Materials
Every time you recycle a product, you’re eliminating the need to produce that material from scratch. In addition to limiting unnecessary waste, this also means less energy is used worldwide. Producing materials generally requires excessive amounts of energy, usually derived from fossil fuels. Machines are necessary to produce all that plastic and metal we see around us, and those machines operate on electricity or gasoline. In a world without recycling, we would have to use absurd amounts of energy to produce the goods necessary to keep up with demand. If we recycle as much as we can, we can reduce the amount of production that’s necessary and use less energy across society.
Avoid Harmful Mining
Many products, especially those made of metal, depend on raw materials that must be laboriously extracted from the earth. In addition to harming local ecosystems, mining requires the use of energy-consuming equipment. All those high-powered drills and hydraulics systems burn a lot of fuel. The less we reuse, the more of these raw materials we have to remove, even at such a devastating cost to the environment. That’s why metal recycling is particularly important.
Avoid Transportation of Materials
Once the raw materials have been extracted and the goods have been produced, the final products must be shipped to wherever they’ll enter the market. This final step is also inefficient since the trucks, ships, and planes used for transportation are all irredeemable polluters. By recycling goods at a local plant instead of buying new products shipped from afar, you’re decreasing the total number of polluting vehicles in operation.
Recycling is a truly wonderful practice that helps the planet in more ways than one. Not only does recycling keep human waste out of landfills, but it also brings a reduction in energy use around the world. This, in turn, helps keep our climate crisis in check.