Over a lifetime, the average person could throw away 600 times their body weight in trash. The majority of that trash will continue to live in a landfill for years to come. Unlike landfills, which simply stockpile trash, recycling offers a better solution to save money, save energy and reduce the amount of landfill space we are consuming. To put things into perspective, here is what one ton of recyclable items will save.
Recycling one ton of aluminum:
- Saves 14,000 kWh of energy
- Saves 39.6 barrels (1,663 gallons) of oil
- Saves 237.6 million Btu's of energy
- Saves 10 cubic yards of landfill space
Recycling aluminum cans takes 95% less energy than making aluminum from raw materials. Prepare your cans for recycling by rinsing them out and crushing them.
Recycling one ton of glass:
- Saves 42 kWh of energy
- Saves 0.12 barrels (5 gallons) of oil
- Saves 714,286 Btu's of energy
- Saves 2 cubic yards of landfill space
- Saves 7.5 pounds of air pollutants from being released
Compared to throwaway glass bottles, refillable glass bottles require 2/3 less energy to produce. Just like aluminum cans, glass bottles should be rinsed out. Check with your local recycling facility or community program to determine if broken glass or mixed color glass is accepted. Each day, the US throws away enough bottles to fill up a small house. Pinterest also has some great ideas on how to upcycle class bottles.
Recycling one ton of plastic:
- Saves 5,774 kWh energy
- Saves 16.3 barrels (685 gallons) of oil
- Saves 98 million Btu's of energy
- Saves 30 cubic yards of landfill space
Producing plastic from plastic rather than from raw materials reduces energy consumption by approximately 88%. That’s enough energy to power a city of 1 million homes! Using plastic rather than paper bags reduces the demand for paper bag deliveries. Did you know that it takes 7 trucks to deliver paper grocery bags to the store versus the one needed for plastic bags? You can check if your plastic bottles are recyclable by the code encircled by chasing arrows on the bottom. Approximately 80% of the US population has access to some kind of recycling center. More and more recycling centers are opening up.
Recycling one ton of steel:
- Saves 642 kWh of energyaRe
- Saves 1.8 barrels (76 gallons) of oil
- Saves 10.9 million Btu's of energy
- Saves 4 cubic yards of landfill space
Canned goods are a staple in many household kitchens. We often refer to them as tin cans, but did you know that less 1% of the can is actually made of tin? We throw away enough iron and steel to supply all of the nation’s automakers.
Recycling one ton of cardboard:
- Saves 390 kWh of energy
- Saves 1.1 barrels (46 gallons) of oil
- Saves 6.6 million Btu's of energy
- Saves 9 cubic yards of landfill space
Recycling cardboard saves 24% of the total energy needed to make new cardboard. So as your stocking up your house with new products or moving, break those boxes down to recycle, reuse another time or save them for a friend who is moving.
Newsprint and Paper Recycling
Recycling one ton of newsprint:
- Saves 601 kWh of energy
- Saves 1.7 barrels (71 gallons) of oil
- Saves 10.2 million Btu's of energy
- Saves 4.6 cubic yards of landfill space
- Saves 7,000 gallons of water
- Saves 15 trees
Recycling one ton of paper:
- Saves 4,100 kWh of energy
- Saves 9 barrels (380 gallons) of oil
- Saves 54 million Btu's of energy
- Saves 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space
- Saves 60 pounds of air pollutants being released
- Saves 7,000 gallons of water
- Saves 17 trees
You’re probably thinking, “Who still reads the newspaper? Don’t we have an app for that?” So many people still read the Sunday edition of the New York Times that it takes between 65,000 to 75,000 trees to produce all of the copies. Since we throw away about 10 million tons of newspaper AND 4.5 million tons of paper each year, we should be recycling them and save our forests!
It’s quick and easy to discard things into one garbage can that’s delivered to the landfill, but taking an extra 30 seconds a few times a day to sort and recycle will help our planet for years to come. Many apartments communities offer a recycling program, but if your community currently does not, discuss starting a program with your community manager.