Reuse vs. Recycle

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For most people, the terms “reuse” and “recycle” are one and the same. After all, when you reused the old plastic bottles lying around the garage as small decorative garden pots, you recycled them, too. Strictly speaking, however, the terms have different meanings in the eco-friendly movement.

Definition of Terms

When you use the term reuse, you utilize the product/item in its original form, often with just a little parts repair and/or replacement to make it fit to be used again by other individuals.  On the other hand, to recycle means to destroy the item/product so as to scavenge the parts that can be used to produce new items.

As an example, take your old desktop computer that you are trying to decide whether to reuse or recycle.  If you reuse it, you can make other individuals, who have need of a computer but cannot afford it, happy. Think of your local charity office, the local school and even a young relative.

If you opt to recycle it, you can drop it off at a recycling center.  It will then be stripped of its internal components for resale, when and where possible, and the metal and plastics separated and melted.  These melted materials are, in turn, used to make new computers.

Reuse and Recycle Compared

Recycling has its merits especially when you consider that it can save the Earth’s resources than simple dumping in landfills, burning in pits and burying in land ever could.  However, recycling does have its downsides, among which are:

• The energy needed to transport and process the recyclable materials can be substantial.

• The processes required for the creation of new items from the salvaged materials can still pollute the environment.

• In cases where the items cannot be recycled, the disposal costs are significant.

In short, recycling involves the utilization of additional energy and the outlay of additional expenses to reconvert the old items into the new items.  When you contrast this with the concept of reusing items, there is no additional strain on the Earth’s resources and no stress on your pockets.  Basically, you spend energy to think up of creative ways to reuse the old items in and outside of your home. For example, you can donate the items to the local charity, give it to neighbors who can find uses for it especially when he is adept at repairs, re-purpose the items to suit a similar need (i.e., an old wooden door can become a great headboard), and even have garage sales.

Also, there are online groups that offer items, either for sale or for free, that they don’t use but which others can reuse. Check out the Internet for these sites to help you unload some of your stuff.  Not only will you be able to save the environment from the stress of more energy consumption but you can help others and make money, too!

Indeed, before you think of recycling, think of reusing your old stuff. You will delightedly discover that you have made your contributions to the planet’s welfare, helped somebody in need, and applied your creativity in the process.

Photo by: Eray Haciosmanoglu –

Related posts:

  1. Reuse Or Recycle Your Inkjet Cartridges
  2. 5 Easy Ways To Recycle Your Old Gadgets
  3. How to Save Some Trees
  4. Tips in Greening your Small Business
  5. Simple Steps to Start a Life of Green Living
  6. Recycle your Old Socks


  1. Max says:

    I really enjoyed your comments. Recycling is important and reusing is as equally important. We’ve become a throw away society, but there are a lot of things we use that could be reused. For example, glass jars…the kind that pickles come in would make excellent storage containers. But eventually, your house and garage is full of jars and you have to do something else with them. That’s where recycling comes in, you put the jar in the recycle bin and off it goes to the recycler; hopefully, they are able to find a market for the glass, metal, plastic, etc. and our little pickle jar doesn’t end up in a landfill.
    If each of us becomes more aware of reusing and recycling we can make a difference for our environment.
    Thanks for your efforts!

    We’re trying to do something about plastic bottle pollution. Check us out on facebook or our website.


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