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Patriotic People Recycle!

Aug 17, 2007
There's no doubt about it: if you're a patriot, you should feel great about recycling.

Think about it. Recycling saves trillions of kilowatts of energy every year. It conserves our natural resources. It makes our country's air, water and soil cleaner by limiting pollution, and it stimulates our economy by creating new jobs.

Politicians and pundits from both the Left and the Right strongly agree that we should decrease our dependence on foreign oil. So recycling makes you a true patriot who's doing something to make the people and economy of our great nation cleaner, healthier, richer and stronger!

I can see some folks in my mind's eye (not you, of course!) with a slight sneer of disbelief on their faces. So allow me to share some basic statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency and other reputable sources that back up my argument.

Be a Patriot: Save Energy!

In 2003, the energy savings from recycling 54 billion aluminum cans exceeded the energy equivalent of 15 million barrels of crude oil, or the amount of gas the U.S. uses in one day.

Another way to look at it: recycling 1 can = 3 hours of TV, so in 2003 the U.S. saved enough energy by recycling cans to run 162 billion hours of TV, or about 25 hours of TV for every man, woman and child on Earth.

The Center for Ecological Technology found that the glass industry uses 50% less energy to create glass from recycled glass than from raw materials.

Americans recycled about 40 million tons of paper products in 2003, creating an energy savings of 163 trillion (yes, with a "T"!) kilowatt hours of electricity.

Recycling one pound of plastic soda bottles - or PET plastic - saves 1200 BTUs of energy (1 BTU is the amount of energy needed to raise a gallon of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit).

2005 saw the U.S. recycle 5 billion pounds of PET plastic, which equals a savings of 60 trillion BTUs of energy.

Be a Patriot: Conserve Natural Resources

Americans disposed of 83 million tons of paper products in 2003. According to the EPA, by recycling nearly half of that, we saved 705 million trees and 290 billion gallons of fresh water.

4% of U.S. annual oil consumption, or roughly 219 million barrels of oil, goes into the manufacture of plastic. Thus increasing the amount of plastic we recycle can make a significant impact on oil use.

In 1997, the U.S. recycled 13 million cars, which conserved 32.5 billion pounds of iron ore, 18.2 billion pounds of coal and 1.5 billion pounds of limestone.

Aluminum can be recycled forever. Over 2/3 of all aluminum ever created is still in use. Most of the 1/3 not still in use is aluminum cans in landfills.

Be a Patriot: Limit Pollution

Recycling just half of your annual recyclable household waste saves 2400 pounds of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Many scientists contend that human-released CO2 is a leading cause of global warming.

Recycling household and car batteries keeps heavy metals such as mercury, lithium and cadmium from being released into our air and water. Heavy metals, when consumed by people and other animals, cause numerous health problems and diseases.

The EPA estimates that 200 million gallons of used motor oil are improperly disposed of each year. Recycling used motor oil keeps it from polluting your ground and fresh water.

Americans dispose of 270 million waste tires each year. Illegally-dumped and stock-piled tires are fertile breeding grounds for rodents and mosquitoes, and illegally-burned tires release oil and soot into the air and ground water.

Be a Patriot: Stimulate the Economy

Recycling creates a net gain in jobs - 5 to 1 over landfill management.
Jobs created by recycling cover a wide variety of skill sets, including basic labor, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, advanced science and engineering.

Recycling creates new "green" technologies designed to take advantage of the reclaimed resources.

The National Recycling Coalition reports that recycling has created 1.1 million jobs, $236 billion in gross annual sales, and $37 billion in annual payroll.

So there you have it. Patriotic people recycle! I challenge you to come up with another activity that every family in the country can so easily do to make such a huge difference in so many critical areas of the health of our great nation.
About the Author
Mac Bartine writes about business, music and the environment for his website, KnoxvilleBusiness.com. View more of his writing about recycling here.
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