Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is it important to recycle?
A: Recycling is important for many reasons. Often we promote recycling as a way to keep
waste out of landfills, which are often unpopular. It is also important to remember
that recycling recovers valuable raw materials. If we make aluminum cans from recycled
cans, then we don't have to disturb the environment by mining and smelting the mineral
bauxite which is used in the manufacture of aluminum. Finally, recycling reduces pollution
and saves energy that would have been expended when making products from "virgin"
or unrecycled raw materials. In many places, you may be required or encouraged by
law to recycle. There are laws in several states making it illegal to put yard waste
(cut grass from mowing the lawn, or raked leaves) into landfills. Residents of these
states have to leave yard waste for special collections where it is taken and composted.
Many states have "Bottle Bill"s which require a deposit (5 or 10 cents each) on bottles and cans when you buy beverages. These programs help divert a large quantity of plastic and glass containers from landfills.
Recycling works best when we remember to buy and use products made from recycled materials, such as newspaper or glass.
Q: How does recycling help the environment?
A: Recycling helps the environment by slowing down the rate at which we have to burn garbage or put it in landfills. With fewer landfills we can have more space for people to farm, live, and work. Recycling also helps by reducing our need to consume fresh natural resources to make new products. As a result we can save these resources for use by future generations. Most importantly, recycling saves energy and reduces pollution. This could help slow down global climate change, another environmental problem caused by burning fossil fuels like oil and gas.
Q: What would happen if everyone stopped recycling?
A: Disposing of your garbage could become much more expensive. Since everybody would be throwing away everything, landfills would fill up faster. We would have to build more and more to accept all of the new garbage. People who have to live near landfills are generally opposed to building new ones. Many of our natural resources would disappear even faster. The supply of any material on our Earth is limited. While it may seem like we could never run out, if we keep filling our landfills with aluminum, plastic, and steel there will eventually be no more left.