Recycle? What's in it for me?

I think that by now, pretty much everybody knows that we need to reduce, reuse and recycle as a way to combat climate change, but have you ever wonder "What's in it for me?"

On an individual level, there are ways within each "R" that you can look at for gaining something besides the satisfaction of knowing that you helped in your own small way.

For starters, get in the habit of reducing your consumption: buy and use less! This is the first and most important step towards responsible consumption. Be a non- consumer.

If you are buying less, you are also spending less.

Don't buy water! By this I mean that if you have a choice of a concentrated product, that you add the water to, such as kool- aid, then buy that instead of bottled sugar water.

Let's say that you can buy kool-aid mix that makes 12 quarts for $4.25. That is 3 gallons, or the equivalent of 24 16 oz bottles of Snapple at $1.89 each at a total cost of $45.36. Let's see, you just saved $41.11!

If you put that $40 in savings every 24 days, you will have banked over $600 by the end of the year.

The second "R" is for reusing. Probably the most common example is the old-fashioned hand-me-down practice of our parents. If you're not buying new pants for each child, but passing along their older siblings attire, then you're saving money.

Another example would be my neighbor, Johan Helton. He is a guitarist and he wants me to build him a recording studio. As part of that project, I de-constructed an old shed/garage and salvaged 14 4x6 timbers and 16 2x6 planks that can be used in the construction of his new studio. That's over $300 worth of building material he doesn't have to buy.

A third way to personally benefit from reusing is the tax deduction you can receive for donating used clothing and other items, if you itemize your tax returns. The Better Business Bureau has some good advice on donating as well as a link to the Salvation Army list of estimated values for donated items.

And then we come to the last "R": recycling. This is the final step on our road to responsible consumption.

Just by saving your aluminum cans and selling them to the recycle center closest to you, you are putting money in your pockets.

Maybe your kids can start a home business of collecting cans from neighbors to recycle.

By recycling everything you can, including your glass jars, soup cans and aluminum cans, you are reducing demand on raw materials, you're reusing the energy that has already been expended, therefor reducing the need for new energy. You are reducing the need for more landfill space.

Unfortunately, a lot of folks have the attitude that "I can't make a difference, so why bother." While, it is true that one person's efforts may not seem to have much of an impact, if everyone does their small part, there is a tremendous impact on our world.

Consider...there are over 300 million folks in the United States. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone put their weekly trash on your front lawn?

Since the average person generates 4.6 pounds of garbage, every day, that week's worth would add up to ove 1 billion 380 million pounds of stuff on your lawn!

So take a little time to consider how you can reduce, reuse and recycle your 4.6 pounds every day. It does matter.

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