Recycling benefits everything and everyone. Here, 6 common myths to throw away. Like, right now.
Maybe you started off with a passionate mission to recycle and do your part for the environment, but it’s since fallen by the wayside with an apathetic “thud.” Or maybe you’re one of the many who has fallen prey to the recycling myths polluting the atmosphere. Either way, it’s time to rekindle the flame and familiarize yourself with the recycling benefits you’re seriously missing out on.
Here are 6 recycling myths to leave at the landfill:
1. “I don’t have time to recycle.”
You have enough crammed into your schedule, the last thing you need is another responsibility added to your to-do list (which at this point is more of a scroll). Trust me, I get it. But really the only thing that takes time is the learning curve when you first get started. The maintenance can easily be bundled into other chores that are already part of your daily routine. For example, washing out recyclables when you wash your dishes, or dropping items off at the recycling center when you go grocery shopping.
You know what’s time-consuming? Paper taking five months to break down in a landfill, plastic bags taking a decade, and glass bottles taking one million years. You know, give or take.
2. “Landfills are roomy.”
They’re also a major source of groundwater pollution. According to the National Recycling Coalition, they create liquid waste called leachate—which is similar in composition to that of hazardous waste landfills—and contaminate the soil (remember that little movie called “Erin Brockovich”?). Recycling is about preventing pollution and saving natural resources, not saving landfill space.
Recycling benefits the bigger picture. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 75 percent of trash is reusable/recyclable, which should be enough of an incentive alone to go green.
3. “Recycling is too confusing.”
4. “Recycling costs more energy than it saves.”
According to the National Recycling Coalition, creating usable materials from reprocessed materials takes roughly 17 times less energy than creating them from raw. The recycling benefits are huge: Doing so saves 3.6 times the amount of energy generated by incineration, and 11 times the amount generated by methane recovery (the process landfills go through to reduce emissions to the atmosphere).
5. “One person not recycling isn’t the end of the world.”
If everybody thought this way, then it would be. There’s strength in numbers: According to the EPA, the average American produces 4.7 pounds of trash per day—that’s 1,600 pounds per year! Now multiply that by the world’s population, and if nobody recycled we’d literally be living in a giant shit heap.
6. “Someone will sort through it for me.”
Au contraire: If you’ve put recyclables in a trash bag, they’re treated as trash and taken to the landfill. Period. Simply setup a small station in your home and develop a sort-as-you-go routine. Also, be more mindful of your buying habits to cut back on waste from the source: Things like cutting back on your spending or becoming more aware of how what you’re buying is manufactured and packaged can go a long way in reaping more recycling benefits.
Which recycling myths grind your gears?
Related on EcoSalon
Recycling Electronics: Too Many Americans Trash Old Gadgets
Swapdom Exercises the Benefits of Recycling with Multi-Person Trade Site
The Zero Waste Trash Challenge: Better Recycling Goes Beyond Curbside
Image: Recycling bins photo via Shutterstock