Recycling reduces the garbage placed in landfills, which helps the environment by reducing the need for new landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are over 3,000 active landfills in the United States and over 10,000 old municipal landfills. Because modern landfills are sealed tightly in an attempt to protect the environment from contamination, they also inhibit degradation of organic waste. Items that consumers purchase because they are biodegradable and therefore, are supposed to decay quickly, are taking decades to decay when sealed off from air and water. Papers, including newspapers, are a major filler of modern landfills. If individuals would recycle all of their newspapers, they could significantly prolong the use of each landfill, not to mention save many trees from being cut down.
Batteries and components used in electronic devices such as cell phones, computers and toys are harmful to the environment as they decompose and therefore should be recycled. Old computer monitors may contain as much as eight lbs. of lead. Flame retardants are used in the manufacture of plastic cases and components as well as cadmium. These are all harmful to the environment and people if they swallow them or breathe in fumes. Of course, that is what can happen around unregulated landfills. The air and water often become contaminated as water passes over these components, leaching the chemicals into the soil and underground water. Eventually the chemicals in the underground water spread, contaminating area wells, streams and rivers, and eventually the fish and other seafood that we eat. Harmful emissions begin to rise into the air surrounding unregulated landfills. Recycling old batteries, computers, and other electronic devices can reduce or eliminate these hazardous chemicals from contaminating our water and food. The old landfills still in use are also fraught with pests such as rats, flies and mosquitoes that spread germs and disease for miles around the landfill.
Saves Precious Resources
Recycling saves our precious resources from being used up. Recycling newspapers, cardboard and junk mail can save trees from being cut down. Of course, the trees provide oxygen for us to breathe and remove harmful carbon dioxide from the air. Remember that the forest also provides homes for animals and plants, some of which are becoming extinct from losing their natural habitat. Recycling plastic products such as bottled water, soda bottles, and milk and juice jugs also reduces the need for new petroleum to make new plastic products.