Humans are constantly producing materials that we need for our everyday lives. For example:
All of the above are produced from raw materials, which are limited in supply, some of which get more scarce everyday. We can acquire raw materials through quarrying or mining
These methods of acquiring resources are harmful for the environment. For example, quarrying destroys animal habitats and produces a lot of dust.
Converting these raw materials into useful products takes quite a lot of energy. The energy often comes from limited resources, such as fossil fuels. By reducing the amount of raw materials we require, we will use less fossil fuels and save more energy.
We can reduce the need for raw materials by recycling or reusing products. This will mean less products will end up in landfill as we are producing less waste. Therefore, we will be causing less harm to the environment.
It’s important to recycle materials such as:
Otherwise the waste will remain in landfill sites.
An example of a limited resource is metal, which we can melt and reconstruct into different products. A difficulty with recycling metals is that they often need to be separated into different types before they can be recycled. How much they need to be separated depends on the properties of the final product.
When recycling paper, it is broken down into smaller pieces and made into new sheets of paper. This is cheaper and requires less energy than making new sheets of paper from trees.
Some uses of recycled paper:
Not all plastics can be recycled. However, recycling the plastics we can will help to reduce the use of fossil fuels, when creating new plastics. Recycling plastics also reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in landfill sites.
An example of plastic recycling is the recycling of plastic bottles to create many different types of items, from packaging to plant pots.
Glass is easy to recycle, as we can melt and remould it to form new products. Which takes less energy and is cheaper than making new glass from raw materials.
We can reuse or crush and melt products, like glass bottles, to form different glass products, such as glass jars.
Sustainable development is about making sure we can meet the needs of today without making life on our planet more difficult for future generations.
An example of sustainable development is using more wind energy. In the 21st century, wind power has become more competitive compared to coal generated electricity, as well as less expensive.
Wind turbines are a great way to generate energy, as they are low cost and do not take up much land space. This means that different types of land can be used alongside wind turbines, such as farming or conservation.
As the cost of wind power continues to drop, more countries and cities will use this method to generate electricity.
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