Recycling isn’t a new thing. Americans recycled during WWII (World War 2) -- not because they were trying to save the environment, but because many things like meat, coffee, sugar and tires for cars had become scarce and harder to get. Then after the war was over everything changed. Manufacturers turned from making weapon to making goods that people could buy – refrigerators, furniture, clothing, appliances, new cars, shoes, toys, televisions, radios and on and on. People had jobs and big families. They had more money and bought homes and cars. They stopped worrying about resources. They stopped recycling. More and more garbage found its way to free garage dumps found in every town. Sometimes garbage ended up in forests and wetlands or just on the sides of roads or on the street. Over time some people began to notice that things were not as clean and healthy as they had been. It was more than twenty years though, in the 1960s, that the “environmental movement” started to really make people aware of how we were hurting the environment. People became more aware of littering, saving energy, growing organic foods and recycling. Still not everyone cared about being “green.” It would be another twenty years before it started to get expensive to take garbage to the landfills. That was what really got many people recycling.
Today a lot of Americans recycle. The EPA calculates that Americans recycle about 1/3 of their waste. Though recycling has increased, people don’t have to do it and there is a lot more that people could do to conserve and reuse our shrinking resources.
Ways to Recycle
(Included in PDF)
Recycling in America - Read and React
1. How was the reason for recycling during WWII different than it is today?
2. How did manufacturing (after WWII) affect the amount of garbage in America?
3. What made people begin to think about trash (and littering) affecting out environment?
4. According to the EPA, how many Americans recycle today?
5. Name three ways you can recycle or reduce trash in your every day life:
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