We all want to improve our lives, and most of us also want to reduce waste. And one of the best ways to do both is through reducing waste by means of recycling and reusing items. The benefits of recycling, according to the EPA, include:
- Reducing the volume of waste sent to incinerators and landfills
- Preventing pollution
- Conserving natural resources (for example, water, minerals, and timber)
- Enhancing economic security by sourcing domestic materials
- Saving energy
- Supporting American manufacturing
- Creating jobs in recycling and manufacturing
Waste management, especially recycling, “redirects materials from expensive landfills and incinerators and into more financially advantageous uses” (WasteZero). In fact, the total cost of the waste stream in the US is almost $400 billion annually (WasteZero). Worchester, Massachusetts, implemented a program for reducing waste 21 years ago, a “bag-based pay-as-you-throw program.” Since then, the city has cut trash tonnage by 55%, disposal spending by $21.4 million, and solid-waste operational costs by $26.4 million.
But the benefits of reducing waste by recycling and reusing go for beyond the purely economic and can be profoundly felt at the individual level. For it can also encourage social inclusion and bolster economic development by offering volunteer opportunities, creating jobs, and allowing access to lower-priced goods. And it can free up your money for more productive and life-enhancing activities and endeavors.
So let’s look at a few of the significant benefits of reducing waste, recycling, and reusing.
Gives You More Time and Money
When you reuse and recycle and concentrate on reducing consumption and waste, you have less stuff. And the fewer possessions, gadgets, and objects you have, the less time you have to spend taking care of all that stuff. You will spend a lot less time acquiring, maintaining, and cleaning.
Also, reducing waste saves you money. You buy less because you reuse more. This may seem too obvious to need mentioning, but you just don’t realize how much money you can save until you actually do begin to recycle, reuse, and reduce waste.
In addition, reusing and repurposing items calls for a good helping of creativity, which stimulates your brain, which results in enhanced mental health. Reusing items – “upcycling” is the trendy term – basically means finding creative and imaginative ways to turn waste into useful objects. Instead of throwing it away, you finr a way to keep using it or discover a new use for it.
Helps the Environment
Of course, the primary benefit of recycling and waste management is that it helps the environment – and that’s the place where we all live.
First of all, recycling can do a lot to help the climate change phenomenon, which is chiefly attributable to the emission of green-house gases. Estimates are that about 42% of green-house gas emissions are the result of production of goods and packaging to meet consumer demand. Further, another 12% of green-house gas emissions come from landfills. If, however, we reuse and recycle, we will need to have fewer goods produced, fewer items will go to landfills, and there will be lessened green-house gas emission.
Also by reducing consumption with waste management and reuse, we will use up a lot less of our natural resources, including the energy required to harvest the resources and produce goods. This also means less water and air pollution as a result. And recycling then keeps the goods that are produced from winding up in incinerators or landfills. The recycled goods can then provide parts and raw materials for manufacturers to produce the new needed goods.
Strengthens Communities and Local Economies
Recycling, reuse, and waste management can help support marginalized communities, lessen social inequities, build community capacity, and protect community health. Community initiatives and projects that focus on reuse (as well as businesses with a similar emphasis) can assist in redistributing the goods intended for reuse to those in need – for example, appropriate clothing for people trying to get back into the job market, furniture for victims of disaster, and food for pantries and shelters.
In addition to strengthening the social health of communities, reducing waste through reuse also enhances community members’ physical health. This happens because fewer unnecessary goods are produced, so the resulting manufacturing pollution is reduced. And a lot less goes into local landfills so that fewer toxins leach into the soil and water.
A further local-community benefit is that reducing waste can strengthen local economies and create secure local jobs. Recycling and reuse create what is called a “circular economy.” One person’s waste is another person’s usable goods, so the items stay in circulation within the local economy. And the jobs created by recycling and reuse are green jobs and so secure because the resources the jobs are based on are recycled endlessly throughout the local economy.
For example, in some cities where reducing waste and zero waste are strong goals, composting and related diversion programs generate 10 times more jobs than the disposal of the materials would. Local jobs are created in collection centers and at processing locations. Additional jobs are created in rental businesses and in the equipment-repair arena. Basically, recycling and reducing waste ensure that local money is spent on local jobs so that the money stays within the community.
Provides Jobs on a National Level
The economic benefits of reducing waste by recycling are numerous, but one of the biggest of these is that it provides jobs on a large scale. The EPA studied the job-related impact of recycling nationwide, especially with respect to jobs, wages, and taxes, and released the results in its 2016 Recycling Economic Information Study. According to this study, “in a single year, recycling and reuse activities in the United States accounted for:
$36.6 billion in wages
$6.7 billion in tax revenues
All of this amounts to “1.57 jobs, $76,000 in wages, and $14,101 in tax revenues for every 1,000 tons of materials recycled” (EPA).
When It’s Time to Recycle
So when you practice intentional waste management – recycling and trying to reuse for reducing waste – you will reap almost immediate personal benefits, as well as wider-reaching benefits on a larger community-wide and society-wide scale. You may not be aware of these larger benefits, but they do indeed improve your life.
But when it’s time to recycle, you may not have the inclination, the time, or the means to haul your items to the recycling center yourself. In that case, it’s time to call on the qualified, affordable professionals. Just contact a local hauling service that specializes in recycling and finding ways to reuse waste items.