What is recycling

Recycling can be defined as collecting and processing materials that are considered trash and transforming them into new products.

Recycling benefits not only the environment, which is probably the most important reason why we should do it more often, but it can also be a positive change for communities.

As littering and landfills can sometimes be serious problems for locals, recycling has the potential of being the saving grace for communities that are dealing with these issues.

The benefits of recycling

Recycling has many benefits, but one of the biggest is the relief that it is for the environment, as it prevents a lot of trash for reaching landfills or worse, incinerators.

Neither is an ideal way to dispose of unwanted materials, as landfills can be a source of methane, which is a very strong greenhouse gas that can warm the planet up significantly more than even carbon dioxide.

Incinerators, indicated by their name, imply burning trash, which contributes directly to greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, recycling can prevent littering in the cities and in areas where trash doesn't belong in the first place, such as the world's waters and forests.

At the same time, by recycling we can spare essential minerals, such as lithium (recycling batteries), and other important resources, such as trees (recycling paper).

It can save us energy, since in order to make new products using recycled materials, we are using less resources than processing new, raw materials.

This also means that the manufacturing process is usually cheaper and it facilitates the creation of new jobs, financially benefitting local communities.

How products are being recycled

It all starts with collecting the necessary materials, which can be gathered from litter found in the environment, as some companies recently did, such as Samsung, who used old fishnets in manufacturing new products.

Alternatively, companies might ask you to bring in your old device, which they will use to manufacture new products, recycling aluminum, gold, copper and other materials found in your smartphone, for example.

After they are collected, the materials are being processed in special facilities, depending on what products we are talking about and what they will ultimately be turned into.

Paper towels, plastic bottles, your phone and your laptop's chassis, they're all likely to contain some recycled materials if not be made entirely out of recycled items.

As recycling becomes more of a trend, researchers are looking to implement the concept in more industries, such as the building industry, where even used face masks can be used for strengthening concrete.

Battery recycling is also very important, as EVs are becoming more and more the norm for a cleaner transport system.

Scientists went as far as making gummy bears out of recycled wind turbine blades, showing that recycling truly has a lot of potential.

What can be recycled

As around 11 million tons of plastic reach our oceans yearly, it is important to start recycling as soon as possible, but we should also know what can be easily recycled and what can't.

Curbside recycling is one of the more common forms of recycling and the process implies that the local waste collection service comes and picks up a variety of trash, which is then taken to a facility where it's sorted for the recycling process.

Paper is one of the easiest materials to recycle, so long as it is not soaked in oil, for example, so newspapers, old notebooks and magazines, they can all be recycled fairly easily if in proper condition.

Cardboard is another material that can be easily recycled and is used for packaging, such as boxes.

Glass bottles, glasses and jars are also ideal to send in for recycling and so are rigid plastic products, such as bottles or larger containers.

Metal containers, made from steel or aluminum, are also good to send in for processing and in some cases, even food waste can be given a purpose.

Among the things that can't be easily processed by your local waste collection service are greasy paper products, used paper towels, light bulbs and electronic devices, which should be send to specially designated places for careful handling.

Recycling facts

Companies and local authorities can use facts to encourage more people to recycle, as these can have an impact on the perception of the process and can make people think that they contribute to something big.

By recycling cardboard, for example, we can save 25% of the energy compared to making new cardboard.

Also, one ton of recycled cardboard saves some 174 liters of petrol.

When it comes to plastic bottles, 88% less energy is being used by recycling them instead of making fresh from new materials.

If thrown in nature, plastic bags can take as much as 1.000 years to decompose, which can be very dangerous for the ecosystem, as animals can ingest them by accident.

Also, recycling one ton of plastic bottles saves the same amount of energy used by two people in a house for a year.

Here is one more fact regarding paper that might convince you to start recycling, one ton of recycled paper can save 17 fully grown trees.

Recycling tips

As experts estimate that each person will leave over 45 tons worth of waste behind through its existence, starting early is critical.

But if you're just beginning to give recycling a go, you should know that there are a few tips you can consider to make things a little bit easier.

Take small steps at first and don't put too much pressure on you or your loved ones, as it might cause frustration and even steer you away from this nature-oriented process.

My advice, if you have old electronics and batteries laying around, take them to special centers or specially arranged bins at your local supermarket or electronics store to let specialists take care of them.

Also, whenever you have an empty plastic bottle in your hand that you don't plan to keep for later use and you pass by a plastic bin, throw it in there and you gain one point for nature-friendliness.

Reusing is another important thing that you can do, which can be applied to a multitude of things, such as that plastic bottle of water that you purchased to hydrate yourself.

Instead of throwing it away when you're done with it, why not take it home for a refill and throw it in your bag, you might need it on the road another day.

Also, if you want to be more sustainable and give plastic up as much as possible, try to opt for a glass bottle of water, which will keep water fresher and you'll have a longer-lasting, healthier alternative to use at home or at your office.

Try to reuse your old appliances and electronics as much as you can and when they become obsolete, take them to a local retailer that recycles or send them in to get some credit towards a new product.

Also, regarding tech, but not only, you can buy used/refurbished/resealed products, depending on the store, which can be a great way to save money and save the planet at the same time.

Buying refurbished or resealed means that you are likely to get basically a brand-new device, which was cleaned and tested by the store where you buy from.

These are just a few tips you can follow for a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, which can benefit not only the environment, but also communities, possibly including yours.