Sorts of Savings
It takes just three months for an aluminum beverage can to be collected,melted, rolled, manufactured, and distributed. You could possibly buy the same recycled can four times in a year!
Recycling is the process in which waste is returned to raw material and made into new products. Recycling is important because while the world's population keeps creating lots of garbage, we are quickly running out of places to put it!
Using recycled material also helps us conserve natural resources, such as fossil fuels. For example,using the same amount of energy, businesses can make up to 20 times more cans from recycled material than by using bauxite ore, the virgin material that aluminum is originally made from.
Look at this energy conservation analysis chart. It shows that making a ton of new cans from virgin material uses slightly more than 225 million BTUs. (A BTU is an energy unit that represents the amount of heat needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.) In contrast, less than 12 million BTUs are needed to make a ton of cans from recycled containers.
Materials That Surround You
Disposing of computers is a growing problem. Due to advances in technology, computers quickly become outdated. A recent National Safety Council study predicts that by 2005, the number of outmoded computers per year will exceed the number of new computers produced by 18%.
More computers are being made each year, but less are being recycled. It costs the consumer less than$20 to recycle a monitor and computer, but many people are reluctant to do so after they have already paid thousands of dollars to purchase a computer system. As a result, EPA studies show that most discarded desktop computers about 80%end up at garbage dumps, taking up precious landfill space.
This is also problematic because computers contain hazardous waste that can find its way into our drinking water. (Read related story, "Pumped Up and Falling Flat.") It also takes a lot of natural resources to manufacture a new computer. One-and-a-half gallons of crude oil are required to make the plastics used in just one system.
Look at the chart below to see what materials you can find in a ton of random electronic boards, which include computer circuit boards. Some hazardous computer wastes include lead and the nickel and cadmium in the batteries used in laptop computers.
SOME OF THE MATERIALS FOUND IN A TON OF ELECTRONIC BOARDS
There are many ways you can help conserve paper and preserve trees, both at school and at home.
Paper can be made out of materials other than wood. For example, some paper is now being made out of wheat straw, recycled paper, and the sugarcane, banana, and kenaf plants.
The kenaf plant is related to cotton and okra and grows well in the South. Paper is made from the fibers found in its stalks. Many major corporations are using this paper for catalogues. It is considered a good alternative to paper made from wood because each kenaf crop can be harvested in about five months as opposed to the 14 to 17 years it takes for the pine trees used to make paper to reach an acceptable harvesting point.