Do you think of your empty soda cans and food cans as a natural resource? They are. Americans currently discard about 2.7 million tons of aluminum each year. Of that, about 50 percent is recycled. Apart from the economic impact, the environmental savings of recycling metal are enormous. Recycling steel and tin cans, for example, saves 74% of the energy used to produce them.
When you throw stuff away, you might be very glad to get rid of it: into the trash it goes, never to be seen again! Unfortunately, that's not the end of the story. The things we throw away have to go somewhere—usually they go off to be bulldozed underground in a landfill or burnt in an incinerator. Landfills can be horribly polluting. They look awful, they stink, they take up space that could be used for better things, and they sometimes create toxic soil and water pollution that can kill fish in our rivers and seas.