Ways To Recycle Paper

November 16, 2013 by  

Ways To Recycle Paper, People often ask me how to reduce their carbon footprint, and I give an answer they don’t expect: recycle. Obviously, there are a lot of ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: conserve energy, use mass transit or carpool, rely on solar and wind. But one of the simplest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible. We all have an opportunity to make the “three Rs” a bigger part of our daily routine on America Recycles Day, which is celebrated today.

Recycling reduces emissions of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change by reducing the amount of raw materials we use. New materials need to be mined, refined, transported, and turned into products; each step consumes energy and produces greenhouse gases. Recycled materials require a fraction of the energy output. Recycling aluminum, for example, uses less than five percent of the energy needed to make the original product. To put it another way, recycling one aluminum can a day every day for a year saves enough energy to run compact fluorescent bulb for 7,200 hours.

American recycling rates have increased, but we need to do more. Americans recycled 10 percent of their waste in 1985, compared to 35 percent in 2011. But increases have slowed in recent years. The challenge now is to move beyond cans and newspapers and improve recycling rates of items such as food waste, plastics, and glass. We know that people recycle when recycling is convenient; people will recycle a plastic bottle when a recycling bin is nearby, but very few will carry it for hours looking for that elusive bin. Municipalities that have recycling bins in public areas consistently shoe higher recycling rates. Offices that make paper conservation part of their culture produce less waste and save money. When people get together to make recycling a priority, recycling rates improve.

America Recycles Day offers us an opportunity to make recycling a bigger part of our lives and out schools and workplaces. Decades ago, Americans embraced recycling as a way to reduce the amount of trash we send to landfills. Now, it’s time to make recycling a central part of our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.

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