Written by Charlotte Wood (last updated August 18, 2017)
Usually when you think of recycling you think of the little arrow-triangle symbol and perhaps even the Jack Johnson song about reducing, reusing, and recycling. While the Jack Johnson piece is quite catchy, there are other perks to recycling like saving money. Who knew?! While this may seem like a revolutionary and exciting idea, saving money by recycling is a double edged sword.
You can usually save money by earning money when you take in your bottles and cans to a recycling center and in certain states they'll give you a few cents for each bottle. Most recycling however is done through waste services and you don't usually get a bill reduction for recycling your used goods. Also, you don't usually get any money for the paper you recycle.
So are there any real monetary benefits to recycling? Well, not really. Yes you do get some money in some states for recycling some products, but usually the return isn't very much and probably wouldn't cover the gas it took for you to get to the recycling center in the first place. If you could get a credit on your waste disposal service bill that would be most excellent, but alas, I do not believe it to be so.
Most of recycling needs to come out of your own personal concern for the earth. Recycling does help the earth and can help control the waste put into the air and water, but without any real saving benefits for the average person, many don't see the need for it. They'll throw away their cans and bottles with the "3 cents in MN" imprint without a second thought. If the system could devise a way to encourage people to recycle by offering discounts or more substantial amounts of money, then maybe you actually could save money by recycling.
As Jack Johnson says, "three is a magic number," and "two times three is six, and six times three is eighteen, and the eighteenth letter of the alphabet is R," which letter stands for the three magic words: reduce, reuse, recycle. While you may not be able to save any significant amount of money through recycling, if you can heed Johnson's words and cultivate a concern for our planet, then you'll recycle not for monetary greed, but because you just want to.
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