What Can You Recycle?

Quck answer

Recycling is an important practice that helps conserve resources and protect the environment. There are various types of things that can be recycled, including:

1. Paper: Newspapers, magazines, cardboard, and office paper can be recycled to make new paper products.

2. Plastic: Bottles, containers, and packaging made of plastic can be recycled into new plastic items.

3. Glass: Glass bottles and jars can be recycled to create new glass products.

4. Metal: Aluminum cans, steel cans, and other metal items can be recycled and used to make new metal products.

5. Electronics: Old computers, phones, and other electronic devices can be recycled to recover valuable materials and reduce e-waste.

6. Batteries: Both rechargeable and single-use batteries can be recycled to prevent hazardous materials from entering the environment.

7. Textiles: Clothing, shoes, and other textiles can be recycled or repurposed into new garments or other textile products.

8. Organic Waste: Food scraps and yard waste can be composted to produce nutrient-rich soil.

By recycling these items, we can reduce waste, save energy, and decrease the demand for new raw materials. It’s important to check local recycling guidelines to ensure proper disposal and maximize the effectiveness of recycling efforts.

After a long, hot soccer practice, you come home and immediately go to the refrigerator. You take a plastic bottle of water and drink it all in a few gulps. Still thirsty, you grab another plastic bottle and quickly drink it.

Before taking a shower, what do you do with those empty plastic bottles? Do you throw them in the trash? Or do you put them in a recycling bin instead?

Hopefully, the area where you live has a strong recycling program. Learning to reduce, reuse, and recycle helps you live a more sustainable and environmentally friendly life by conserving resources.

Depending on your local trash and recycling facilities, you may be able to recycle as few as a couple of items or as many as several dozen. From a scientific perspective, almost every material can be broken down and recycled.

In the United States, the decision of what gets recycled is based on economics. If the cost of recycling a material is higher than that of producing new material, then it is unlikely to be recycled. Without regulations mandating recycling, people will typically choose to buy cheaper new material rather than more expensive recycled material.

The price of recycled material is largely determined by its composition. Newspapers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, and steel cans can usually be recycled easily and affordably because they are primarily made of one material, such as wood pulp, aluminum, plastic, or steel.

Other items can be much more complex. For example, rubber tires cannot be converted back into simple rubber because they undergo a chemical change during the manufacturing process. Similarly, electronic devices are not easily recycled due to the variety of materials they contain that are difficult to separate.

Although it would be great if everything could be recycled, is it possible to live in a world without any waste? Can we achieve zero waste?

While it is still practically impossible to achieve absolutely zero waste, that is the ambitious goal of Kamikatsu, a small town in southwestern Japan. Since 2003, the town has implemented a strict zero-waste program.

Residents of Kamikatsu sort their garbage into over 30 different categories of recyclable waste. They also compost food scraps and other biodegradable materials. Their efforts have been highly successful, with approximately 80% of the town’s garbage being reused, recycled, or composted.

Even if reaching zero waste is unattainable, advocates of zero-waste programs emphasize the clear environmental, economic, and social benefits of the process. Major cities in the United States, such as San Diego and New York City, have announced plans to move towards zero waste within the next 15-20 years.

Give It a Try

Are you ready to reduce, reuse, and recycle? Find a friend or family member to join you in exploring the following activities:

  • Invite an adult friend or family member to accompany you on a trip to the nearest recycling center in your town or county. Speak to someone there to learn about the items that can be recycled. Find out the amount of material that gets recycled at the facility you visit. If possible, obtain a brochure to have at home as a guide to local recycling options.
  • Do you practice recycling at home? We hope you do! Even small efforts make a difference. If you’re curious about recycling different items, go online and read “How To Recycle Everything in Your Home”. While you may not be able to recycle everything, we believe you can recycle more than you think!
  • Establish a recycling program for your home. Seek assistance from an adult to obtain special recycling bins that can be placed in the garage or outside. Create simple signs to remind your household members which items can be recycled, and place them on the refrigerator or near trash cans. Keep track of the reduction in trash produced over the next few weeks.

Sources of Wonder

  • http://www.businessinsider.com/zero-waste-town-kamikatsu-japan-2017-7
  • http://earthsky.org/earth/the-economics-of-recycling-everything
  • http://www.waste360.com/mag/waste_zero_waste_possible

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