Recycling Basics (Whole Living)

Revenue from highly prized materials like aluminum helps cover the cost of processing less marketable ones, such as glass. (Photo credit: Flickr user Greencolander)

Ever wonder if recycling is worth the effort? After all, in the face of melting ice caps and epic hurricanes, it’s hard to see how a few less cans in the landfill will amount to environmental salvation. In fact, we’re recycling more now than ever before, and yet problems like shrinking forests, dwindling oil reserves, and climate change persist. Can the simple act of tossing a bottle in a blue bin really add up to anything significant for the planet?

We turned to environmentalists and experts on the inside tracks of recycling and waste-and crunched a lot of numbers-to find out. Bottom line: Recycling has everything to do with climate protection. The process reduces heat-trapping emissions at every stage-and there’s no better time than the present to step up the effort. For many of us, recycling is an event that ends at the curb. But as you’ll find out, that’s just the beginning.

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A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2007 issue of Body+Soul magazine (now known as Whole Living).

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