The average American throws away 90,000 pounds of garbage over a lifetime. Clearly, we need to reduce our consumption and reuse all we can. Then we should recycle as much of our waste as possible. And don’t forget to rot, or compost, your food garbage.

Why recycle?

  • It reduces the amount of energy and raw materials needed to make new products.
  • It reduces the amount of waste that piles up in garbage dumps.
  • It creates six times more jobs than putting the same trash in a landfill.


  • If everyone in the U.S. recycled just 1/10 of their newsprint, we would save the estimated equivalent of about 25 million trees a year.
  • One tree can filter up to 60 pounds of pollutants from the air each year.
  • Every ton of paper used for recycling saves 3000 – 4000 KWh electricity.
  • Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 17 trees, 2 barrels of oil (enough to run the average car for 1,260 miles), 4,100 kilowatts of energy (enough power for the average home for 6 months), 3.2 cubic yards of landfill space, 60 pounds of air pollution, and 24,000 gallons of water.


  • The energy saved each year by steel recycling is equal to the electrical power used by 18 million homes each year – or enough energy to last Los Angeles residents for eight years.
  • Aluminum is completely recyclable (there is no material degradation).
  • 20 cans from recycled aluminum can be created with the same amount of energy needed to make 1 new can.
  • The entire U.S. commercial air fleet could be rebuilt from the aluminum Americans throw away every three months.


  • Recycling glass instead of making it from silica sand reduces mining waste by 70%, water use by 50%, and air pollution by 20%.
  • For every ton of glass recycled, over a ton of raw materials are saved, including 1,300 pounds of sand, 410 pounds of soda ash, 380 pounds of limestone, and 160 pounds of feldspar.
  • Recycling six tons of container glass results in one ton less of carbon dioxide than if manufactured “from scratch.”


  • Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour.
  • The U.S. annually recycles 18% of all of its plastic bottles and containers and 36% of its soft drink bottles.
  • Recycling plastic saves twice as much energy as burning it in an incinerator.

Read More: The truth about recyling (The Economist, 7 Jun 07)



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