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Recycling is the act of reusing materials in the creation of new products.

Today, we think about recycling as an industrial practice, but recycling has been a common practice for thousands of years.

"Waste not, want not."

The earliest endorsements of recycling go back as far back as the ancient Greeks. Archeologists have also discovered evidence of recycling in many other ancient villages and civilizations.

Wars, ironically (particularly the two world wars of the last century) have also increased public awareness of recycling as a patriotic act to help conserve resources.

In more modern times, recycling has become an industry in and of itself, and shaves valuable dollars off of bottom lines in a variety of businesses.

Today, the most important aim of recycling is to prevent the waste of raw materials, and all the energy associated with extracting, refining, and processing them.

In most cases, using recycled materials to create new products has proven to be cheaper than using raw materials.

Recycling at what cost?

There are many people, however, who criticize recycling, especially government mandated recycling, as being ultimately wasteful. Critics believe that the energy used to collect, process and redistribute recycled materials totals more than the energy used to simply use new materials.

This criticism does not, however, take in to account a number of different things. Many raw materials, for instance, are finite, and so even if recycling doesn't make economic sense, it makes ecological sense. Recycling also keeps landfill size down, and lessens the destruction of whole ecosystems for one particular material.

Ultimately, the economic criticisms of recycling are irrelevant, say some experts, when compared to the ecological reasons in favor of recycling. Even if recycling made no economic sense, it would still be an important responsibility to recycle because the overuse of natural resources has become an increasingly serious environmental problem.

also see -> Earth Day

More information about recycling around the Web:
Information and resources on how, what and where to recycle with a database of US recycling centers searchable by state or zip code.

Recycle City - Kid-friendly US site with interactive teaching tools & learning resources.



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