Since humans have been on the earth, recycling has been in practice to some extent. Resources, whether plentiful or scarce, can be reused and fitted to another purpose.
While there are archaeologists who state that recycling was practiced as far back as 400 B.C., the movement did not gain real headway until World War II. Previous to the 1940s, peddlers would scour cities for bits of metal that could be melted down and reused. With the onset of the Second World War and with war-time production demands to be met, recycling became a mainstream activity. Tin drives, rubber drives, household collection and donation of anything that could be used in the war effort became not so much a matter of industrial efficiency as a patriotic duty.

Several countries continued recycling practices after the war's end. However, it wasn't until the 1970s with production costs rising, particularly in the U.S. which was faced with gasoline shortages, that recycling once again became a part of daily life. The environmental movement of the 1970s aided in the practice again becoming vogue. The 1970s saw the first Earth Day, the Clean Air Act and dozens of other laws past concerning the preservation of the Earth. It was studied and found that production involving completely new resources take 95% more energy than using recycled goods. Companies and manufacturers could save time and expenses by reusing recycled products.

During the last decades of the 20th Century and beginning of the 21st, recycling and "thinking green" have become increasingly important, particularly in America. Grocery stores sell canvas bags for customers to use over and over again, to replace plastic bags. The majority of cities and communities in the U.S. have recycling centers and households can separate their own recyclables from waste. Landfills and dumps, once the only option for waste disposal, now have the ability to create natural gas which can be used as energy. This energy is made from the methane gas created by decaying waste. Landfill gas recovery is just another way that humans are finding to be frugal with resources. Almost without fail, every city now has separate receptacles for regular waste and recyclables; like paper, aluminum, plastic, batteries, and metals.

Money is still what makes the world turn for most. Recycling can help make money go further. In addition to the industrial savings it can create, recycling also can save money with end users. Second hand stores like the Salvation Army, Plato's Closet, and other consignment or donation stores are a form of recycling, even if they are not the first thing that comes to mind. Some states offer a small cash incentive for recycling certain items, like bottles, motivating people to collect these and turn them in for reimbursement.

With humanity doing their part to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" the world and its resources are in much better shape than previously. Methods like landfill gas recovery and recycling are giving longevity to natural resources.

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