Recycling Facts for Kids

Part of the "going green" movement encourages people to recycle as much as possible to reduce waste, save energy and cut down on pollution. Kids might be young, but they can go green, too and recycling can be the perfect place to start. By educating kids about the benefits of recycling, you can motivate them to be proactive in helping the Earth.

Recycling Saves Energy

It takes energy to make the toys you play with, the books you read and even the clothes you wear. Recycling helps to save energy, which can then be used for something else. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that recycling one ton (2,000 pounds) of paper can save enough energy to heat your home for up to six months. On a smaller scale, recycling just one glass bottle or aluminum can saves enough energy to light a 100-watt lightbulb for up to four hours.

Recycling Keeps the Air and Water Clean

Recycling also helps to keep the air and water clean by reducing waste and decreasing pollution. When trash goes to the landfill instead of the recycling center, it begins to break down, or biodegrade. As it biodegrades, it can begin to release toxic chemicals that can seep into groundwater and pollute the air. According to the EPA, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. The EPA estimates that recycling just one ton of these plastic bottles can save up to 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space, which can significantly reduce levels of air and water pollution.

Recycling Conserves Natural Resources

Recycling helps conserve valuable natural resources, including trees, water and nonrenewable fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Conserving these types of resources is important because they are only available in a limited supply and it's important to make them last as long as possible. For example, paper products account for over one-third of all recycled material, according to the EPA. The California Department of Conservation estimates that recycling one ton of paper can save 17 trees, 7,000 gallons of water and 463 gallons of oil alone.

Recycling Protects Wildlife

Recycling can also help protect wildlife and its natural habitats. According to Green SC, over one million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and 50,000 fur seals die annually as a result plastic litter floating in the water. Every year, 40 million acres of tropical rain forest are destroyed by logging or burning, leading to the extinction of approximately 100 species every day. Recycling protects the habitats of marine life by reducing the amount of trash in the water and helps slow the rate of extinction for animals and insects that live in forested areas.