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The Importance of Recycling to Gen Z

5 minutes read

- Written by Yubo Team

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Recycling is something we have all heard of and hopefully practice – you know, separating paper, cardboard, plastics from the trash and tossing it in that big blue bin. It has become an increasingly important issue for Gen Z and for good reason. Gen Z has grown up in a world facing environmental challenges like pollution, environmental depletion, and of course climate change. Naturally, positively impacting the earth from an environmental standpoint is a huge priority and what better way to start out than with garbage. You might have heard of “wishcycling” from on of our other blogs, which explains that only 5% to 6% of all recyclables in the United States are actually recycled! What happens to the rest? Sadly, a lot of times it gets mixed in with the other garbage and sent off to landfills.

How can we do better?

The first step is to understand that recycling looks different depending on where you are. For starters, each US state (and country) has its own recycling laws, procedures, and facilities that allow them to properly sort and recycle various materials. The main reason these even differ from state to state is because of each state’s infrastructure. Based on their infrastructure, they can only handle so much recycling and the resources they have greatly impact their ability to recycle properly. The best thing you can do is find out what the recycling laws are where you live, so you can recycle properly. 

Another way you can help to minimize waste, which is ultimately what recycling is all about, is to use less disposable items. For example, you likely remember the large fuss about plastic straws. Use them once and then throw them away, that’s a huge waste! In many places, one time use of plastic bags and non-biodegradable plastic silverware is not allowed. That is why you will notice many take out packaging and cutlery is biodegradable or even recyclable.

How Does Recycling Help?

The main benefit of recycling is that it helps reduce the amount of waste and chemicals that ends up in landfills and therefore in the environment. Not only are landfills ugly and smell bad, but they also release large amounts of methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is the main contributor to climate change. By recycling materials such as paper, plastic, and metal, we can greatly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and produces more methane. Not only does this help mitigate the effects of climate change, but it also helps create a more sustainable future.

Another great benefit of recycling that is often overlooked is its preservation qualities. By recycling materials like paper, we have less of a need to cut down more trees. Recycling essentially keeps materials in circulation, which therefore helps preserve the environment. Recycling does not only benefit paper, it also benefits other raw materials required to make things like plastic and metal (which uses a lot of oil and minerals, not to mention the energy needed to harvest and reform these raw materials). Plastic is rightfully villainized because once it is made, it never decomposes, which means it will exist on this earth forever… unless it is recycled!

Won’t it Grow Back?

Eventually, some resources will grow back. Trees are the prime example of this. Other materials like certain minerals and oils are finite, which means that once we run out, we are out! By recycling, we can ensure that we are using these precious resources more efficiently and that they will be available for future generations to come.

Let’s Talk About Money

Recycling can also have many economic benefits. Taking recycling more seriously would help stimulate jobs inside and outside of the recycling industry. Somebody needs to build the infrastructure and keep it running, creating more jobs in the short and long term. Additionally, recycling can save a lot of energy required to make products from scratch! For example, recycling aluminium cans can save up to 95% of the energy needed to produce new cans. Not only does this save production costs, which saves businesses money, but it would also end up saving the consumer money as well!

Quality of Life

Recycling is a step towards a greener planet and a greener society if done correctly of course. Reducing waste through recycling can help reduce pollution and improve the air and water quality, which benefits literally everyone. It benefits the animals and wildlife, as well as the humans equally as much. A cleaner planet is a healthier planet and a healthier planet means healthier people. It goes further than just preserving the current wildlife we have (which is incredibly important for our planet's biodiversity and balance of nature), it also greatly affects what people consume.

If you are a vegetarian or a vegan, skip this paragraph. Having a healthier planet means that animals get more nutrition from their food, keeping them happier and healthier. If you happen to eat meat, this means your food would be better for you too. Not to mention that animals play a huge role in fertilizing and sowing the land, creating fresher fruits and vegetables for everyone to enjoy!

Recycling has so many benefits it is hard to keep track of them all. If one thing can become clear from this blog and from Gen Z’s perspective, it is that recycling is important and should be practiced all over the world – no matter where you are.

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