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Top Ten Reasons to Recycle And why you should buy recycled products if you don't already.

1) Recycling saves trees. This critical fact, one of the first environmental lessons many children learn, cannot be overstated. Half the Earth's forests are gone, and up to 95 percent of the original forest area in the U.S. has been cut down.


2) Recycling protects wildlife habitat and biodiversity. Using recycled materials reduces the need to chop down, extract, process, refine and transport natural resources such as timber, crude petroleum and mineral ores. As a result, destruction of forests, wetlands, rivers and other places essential to wildlife is also reduced.

3) Recycling lowers the use of toxic chemicals. Making products from already refined waste materials reduces -- and often avoids altogether -- the need for manufacturers to use toxic chemicals, essential when using virgin materials.

4) Recycling helps curb global warming. Using recycled materials cuts down on the energy used in the manufacturing process, dramatically reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. For example, recycling one ton of glass results in energy savings of more than 300% and lowers carbon dioxide emissions by 3.46 tons.

5) Recycling stems the flow of water pollution. Making goods from recycled materials generates far less water pollution than manufacturing from virgin materials. Turning trees into paper uses more water than any other industrial process in the U.S., dumping billions of gallons of wastewater -- contaminated with pollutants such as chlorinated dioxin -- each year into rivers, lakes and streams. Paper recycling mills don't pollute the water nearly as much, and almost always use less of it. In addition, some recycling plants use treated wastewater for the manufacturing process.


6) Recycling reduces the need for landfills. Toxic pollution from landfills -- including cyanide, dioxins, mercury, methane, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid and lead -- escapes into the air and leaches into groundwater.

7) Recycling reduces the need for incinerators. Municipal waste incinerators spew out all kinds of air pollutants; in addition they produce contaminated ash. And they are often located in urban neighborhoods where they seriously threaten the health of the community. Keeping paper, glass, plastic and metal out of incinerators by recycling them cuts both how much incinerators pollute and how harmful the emissions are.

8) Recycling creates jobs and promotes economic development. A recent study by the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission found that recycling added about $18.5 billion in value to the economies of 12 Southern states and Puerto Rico in 1995. A recycled newsprint mill in the Bronx, started by NRDC and a local community group, will create 600 permanent jobs and clean up an industrial site abandoned for a quarter of a century.

9) Cities may profit by selling recyclables. While landfills are always dumping grounds for municipal money as well as garbage, cities with high recycling rates can actually make money selling recyclables when markets are good.

10) Buying recycled products contributes to the demand for more recycled products. This will, in turn, save even more resources, reduce more pollution and protect more people's health. On the other hand, as the size of the market grows, recycled products will cost less.

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