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What Will Happen If We Don't Recycle?

Updated on April 7, 2016

I wrote this report twenty five years ago. Back in the 1980's, people were trying to predict what would happen way out in the future many years later, in the 1990's and beyond, with all the trash that was quickly filling up the landfills if people didn't recycle, and all the pollution. Now the 1990's are in the past. We're still searching for solutions to these problems and trying to find alternative energy sources.

All photos on this page are from Jack2205's collection. Do not copy or plagarize.

What Will Happen If We Don't Recycle?


The landfills are filling up fast. Most of them are getting full and closing down. A third have closed since 1980. More than half the cities on the East Coast will run out of room in their landfills by 1990. In New York, 14 sites have closed in the past 10 years. All of Seattle's sites will soon be full. We're running out of space to put all the trash. Some of the hazardous waste in landfills gets into the groundwater and pollutes it. When common garbage is burned, it can release dangerous gases into the air. Each year Americans throw away 1.6 billion pens, 2 billion razors and blades and 220 million tires. They discard enough aluminum to rebuild the entire U.S. commercial airline fleet.

Trash Poll

How important is it to reduce trash that goes into a landfill?

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Recycle Clothing - From Amazon

Show the world that you recycle and spread the message by wearing a T shirt.

Greenhouse Effect

The greenhouse effect keeps the earth warm when functioning normally. For the first time in history, human activities are altering the climate of our entire planet. In less than 2 centuries, humans have increased the total amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 25% from the burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests. Almost 20 years after the clean air act passed, millions of Americans still breathe dirty air. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over seventy six million people live in areas where the clean air standard is exceeded.

Recycling Books - From Amazon

Read about what you can do to help the environment.


Ozone, the primary component of smog, is a gas formed when nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons combine in sunlight. In the atmosphere, ozone occurs naturally as a thin layer that protects us from the sun's ultraviolet rays. But when it's formed at ground level, it's deadly. Lung damage from ozone polluted air is a risk faced by roughly 3 out of 5 Americans. Ozone smog is responsible for extensive damage to pines in California and in the Eastern United States. It's also to blame for crop losses in many agricultural states. As ozone diminishes in the upper atmosphere, the earth receives more ultraviolet radiation which depresses the human imune system. It will affect the well being of every person on the planet.

Hazardous Waste

In 1983, 266 million tons of hazardous waste were generated. Advanced nations manufacture some 70,000 different chemicals, most of which have not been thoroughly tested. Careless use and disposal of these substances contaminate our food, water, and air. We enjoy the convenience of such chemically derived products as plastics, detergents, and aerosals and yet we are often unaware of the hidden price tag associated with them. Eventually they find their way into water and/or the ground via landfills and drains.


Because we have not understood groundwater, and how vulnerable it is, we have been careless. Gasoline and other harmful liquids have been allowed to leak from underground storage tanks into the groundwater supply. Polluntants seep from poorly constructed landfills. Groundwater is polluted by runoff from fertilized fields and industrial areas. Homeowners contribute by dumping household chemicals down the drain or on the ground.

Water Pollution Poll

How important is it to reduce water pollution?

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No one really knows how much plastic is fouling the oceans, but a recent report estimated that up to 350 million pounds of packaging and fishing gear may be lost or dumped by fisherman and sailors each year. Millions of pounds more may come from individuals, private boats, and factories.


Sulfur and nitrogen oxide polluntants released by coal burning electric power plants or motor vehicles are spewed into the atmosphere. There they are changed chemically and they fall back to earth as acid rain or snow. This destroys plant and animal life in streams, damages forests, and even erodes buildings. In 1980 there were 4.4 billion people on earth. In 1990 there will be 5.2 billion. Every day some of these people move into places on the planet where only plants and animals used to live. Forests are cut down. Wetlands, oceans, ice caps, and prairies are invaded.

Air Pollution Poll

How important is it to reduce air pollution?

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Recycling and Pollution

If we don't recycle the things that can be recycled, we'll run out of landfill space and the water and air pollution will increase.

Recycling Bins - From Amazon

These bins are excellent to help you sort and organize.

This web page has received a purple star award.

Quiz Poll

How many questions did you get correct on the quiz?

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What Will Happen If We Don't Recycle?

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    • profile image

      Thembisile Susan mpungose 

      2 months ago

      I would like to thank hubpages becouse it helped me alot!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • asereht1970 profile image


      4 years ago

      Informative and useful lens. Hope many people can read this.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      We will have wasted a precious gift.

    • linhah lm profile image

      Linda Hahn 

      4 years ago from California

      Our beloved Earth will be a garbage dump!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Basic raw material, e.g. oil, minerals - trees - will run out eventually if we carry on regardless. Do we need so much 'stuff' in our lives? No.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      If we don't recycle than the product will be costlier and availability will effect adversely.

    • GregoryMoore profile image

      Gregory Moore 

      5 years ago from Louisville, KY

      I think recycling is very important, and that the waste management companies need to facilitate as much recycling activity as possible. I moved to a new home 6 months ago, and my new waste management company gives you free recycling and free recycling bins. At my last home, you had to pay the company in order to be able to recycle, which was ridiculous.

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 

      5 years ago

      I toured a recycling facility a few months ago. It was really interesting and I learned a lot on that tour.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 

      5 years ago from Europe

      Here in Europe our population density is so much higher that recycling became a big issue earlier, we just don't have the room for more dumps. Reducing what we use and re-using items rather than throwing them out is just as important as recycling.

    • Cynthia Haltom profile image

      Cynthia Haltom 

      5 years ago from Diamondhead

      Many of use do recycle so I think we should continue to educate the rest of the public.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      5 years ago from Canada

      The facts are now saying what you worried about so many years ago. Global warming is passing landmarks now that are now no longer reversible.

    • ThisisMissyMiss profile image


      5 years ago from The Fabulous Midwest

      We are big on recycling at my house. Even my toddler knows to recycle his empty boxes and containers.

    • PhilVardy profile image


      5 years ago

      Essential reading for all of human-kind! thanks!

    • imagelist lm profile image

      imagelist lm 

      5 years ago

      Great lens with valuable info...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing! Great lens!

    • PhilVardy profile image


      5 years ago

      more people need to read this..... great lens. spread the love!

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image


      5 years ago

      Where my mum lives they don't even recycle aluminium cans.. how short sighted is that!

    • takkhisa profile image


      5 years ago

      There will be no existence of life!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      5 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      It's interesting to go back and read what we wrote years ago and see how things actually turned out or changed. I studied Environmental Conservation in college and still have many of my old reports. It's been a long time since I've read them, but now you've inspired me to go dig that box out and go back in time more than 20 years. Good topic.

    • InfoCoop profile image


      5 years ago

      Great topic and so very important. We take so much for granted and generations beyond us will pay the price. We do what we can in our household by recycling everything we possibly can and donating items we no longer want.

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 

      5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I read somewhere recently that in our lifetimes we'll find ourselves "mining" recyclables from landfills because we'll need the raw materials so badly. That has really stuck with me! This was a very informative lens. I'm very concerned about all of these areas of pollution and what we can do and do better to reduce our impact. Blessed

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Great and informative lens. Now I know more about recycle benefit.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Terrific lens, it's important to keep getting the message out! :)

    • suepogson profile image


      5 years ago

      It is sad that the article you wrote in the 80s is still so relevant today. Thank you for bringing it to attention again. If we do not recycle we will the resources of the earth, and then ourselves. We also need - urgently - to stop using non-biodegradable materials. So often they simply aren't necessary!

    • Elaine Chen profile image

      Elaine Chen 

      5 years ago

      pollution definitely is a big issue that all of us should treat it seriously. Recently, I keep all the paper roll and send it to recycling center. I know my little action can't help much to reduce pollution but at least not produce some more pollution

    • ofdifferentsorts profile image

      Paul Franciskato 

      5 years ago from Junction City, Kansas

      When I visit my local recycling centers, I see that people do care about recycling and much is being done by some people but I'm also amazed at the things that people throw away when I take a look in the trash dumpster! Many things that get thrown away can be donated to charitable organizations OR could even be sold in a yardsale or online!

    • Babbages profile image


      5 years ago

      Great Lens, can't believe some people don't think improving water and air quality is important!!

    • kcsantos profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a very informative and helpful lens. Thanks for sharing! Everyone should know the importance of recycling.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow thanks for this very useful information. I am sure that if we don't recycle the world will become on great big rubbish dump!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Recycling is extremely important. I think that people are aware of that more and more - but still not enough. Articles like yours help to raise awarness, thank you.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Recycling is a very important topic, I think people need to recycle more!

    • Jo-Jackson profile image


      5 years ago

      We will kill our planet. We have wrecked the habitats of most other large mammals already. What a selfish species we are that don't seem to learn from our mistakes.

    • Ursel001 profile image


      5 years ago

      Mother Earth will be angry!

      Go green!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      It will require even more energy to create the products that we need.

    • cjbmeb14 lm profile image

      cjbmeb14 lm 

      5 years ago

      I am from the UK and two years ago we were lucky enough to go to Florida on holiday. When we went shopping at Walmart, we could not believe the amount of carrier bags the gave us. When the packed our groceries they were putting just one or two items in each bag. Here in the UK, the supermarkets ask first if you need any bags.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm afraid that from this point on, it is a must.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      We'll finish up surrounded by our own waste. We must follow the 3R's Reduce, Re-use, Recycle to manage our waste.

    • Niagara Ghosts profile image

      Niagara Ghosts 

      5 years ago

      Love this lens! I am currently the writer and editor for the Green Guide Magazine that goes out in the Toronto papers on Earth Day. That contract opened my eyes so much and I try to apply it in daily living. Great information!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you. Very informative.

    • Ardyn25 profile image


      5 years ago

      A very informative and important issue..thanks for putting it together.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The earth is already going to destroy itself, we can only slow down the process

    • malikaehf profile image


      6 years ago

      We're gradually destroying Mother Earth by carelessly throwing away things we don't use anymore. I believe that no later than today, we need to change the way we think, and welcome new products made from products that others have thrown away.

      They may be slightly more expensive than mass made stuff, but in the end we will all gain, and we will feel better knowing that each little step we take to reduce pollution will count.

      Thank you for a great lens :)

    • OrganicMom247 profile image


      6 years ago

      I got very few correct answers in your quiz but I learned a lot. This is a great lens.

    • mary-humphrey profile image


      6 years ago

      I think if we don't recycle we are just going to cause the demise of the earth through various means. I think more people should take this seriously. Thank you for all of the great information and thanks for the blessing on my lens.

    • karen-stephens profile image


      6 years ago

      WOW I would have thrown out all my stuff from 1980's.. good for you. Great ideas. Angel Blessings! xxo

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 

      6 years ago

      Great lens!!!!! Blessed. Thanks for keeping other aware. By the way, I featured you on my lens.. SQUID ANGEL WINGS!

    • Jogalog profile image


      6 years ago

      I find this topic so depressing as it is so important to recycle and to do whatever we can to help the environment. Thank you for trying to raise awareness.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Not only our future but also that of future generations depend on it! Outstanding, chilling and inspiring information. Congratulations on your well deserved purple star award. Squid Angel blessings!

    • xtraneus profile image


      6 years ago

      Outstanding information on recycling! It's motivated me to do more recycling in my home.

    • GardenIdeasHub LM profile image

      GardenIdeasHub LM 

      6 years ago

      I think it does start with us. If everyone does their part to recycle then things will get better.

      It would be interesting to know how many people in the US do recycle.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Our future depends upon it. Great lens. Liked it.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      We should all give a helping hand on recycling.

    • profile image

      Donnette Davis 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      We recycle everything, much of it out of necessity because of the high cost of living in South Africa, liked and blessed x

    • koolclipz profile image


      6 years ago

      My daughter is on the Green Team @ school. She seen people throwing paper in the trash. So tomorrow she is building a poster to remind her classmates. She is in the 4th grade. Moral to the story "teach from an early age" Great lens!

    • BrianRS profile image

      Brian Stephens 

      6 years ago from France

      Very thought provoking.

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      have been recycling for about 25 years...great lens...

    • sunlightseer profile image


      6 years ago

      Unfortunately we are killing our Mother Earth with all our trash. Hopefully your lens will open eyes.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I dread to think. If we can instill recycling and environmental protection in our children early on, they will be more likely to carry it on.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      we need to focus on recycling for our earth

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      6 years ago

      We're doing better and better at recycling. We need to keep going, and recycle even more!

    • happy-birthday profile image

      Birthday Wishes 

      6 years ago from Here

      We will destroy our place of living and everything around us...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Coming back to sprinkle some angel dust on this lens!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      6 years ago from GRENADA

      I squid-liked this lens on a previous occasion. I returned to BLESS it today!

    • Ardyn25 profile image


      6 years ago

      A realistic take and information of recycling. I read an article last year sometime about the plastics that have been disposed of in our oceans...scary. Our landfills are full, hopefully we are farther ahead on the recycling than we were 20 years ago. Great lens, thank you.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It won't be a good thing, that's for sure. We are recycling nuts around my home.

    • AlexanderTurner profile image


      6 years ago

      Scaring but indeed fantastic lens. Well done! Cheers

    • The One Stop Shop profile image

      The One Stop Shop 

      6 years ago

      This is a fantastic lens, recycling is very important!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 

      6 years ago from GRENADA

      Very important and valuable lens!

    • GenWatcher LM profile image

      GenWatcher LM 

      6 years ago

      Great lens! I believe it is each individual's responsibility to be a steward of the earth, walking gently and doing no harm.

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 

      6 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      Recycle? It's great idea, but getting people to go along with it isn't so easy. I mainly wanted to thank you for liking and especially for blessing my lens on oil well drilling. I always get so excited whenever one of my lenses are blessed. Thank you. BTW, what do you think about offshore drilling?


    • flowerdada profile image


      6 years ago

      Recycling is so important. Great lens!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      This is such important info.

    • JohnCumbow profile image


      6 years ago

      My wife and I recycle the majority of what comes into our house, but we could still do better. We all NEED to do better or we'll be buried in our own waste!

    • Zebedee32 profile image


      6 years ago

      A very responsible lens.

    • Normyo Yonormyo profile image

      Normyo Yonormyo 

      6 years ago

      We could and up in the dark ages, having to live on a diet of polluted food and going to bed when the sun sets because there is no fuel to create electricity.

    • CyberTech LM profile image

      CyberTech LM 

      6 years ago

      We will DIE!!!

      I think one day in my town it will become a law to recycle. Does any city enforce recycling?

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My mother has been recycling for as long as I can remember. Back in those days people thought she was crazy when she would sort through all the rubbish and drive to the next town because it was the only way to recycle. We've come a long way since then, but still not far enough. A very important lens. *Blessed*

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      One of the better lenses I have read in a while. Bookmarked and ~blessed~!

    • ogrote profile image


      6 years ago

      We need to view the planet as a spaceship with limited resources running low on fuel!

    • kindoak profile image


      6 years ago

      Excellent topic and presentation. I am always surprised at people who do not understand, or ignore, that this is a problematic issue. Even more - it is a tradgedy that so many governments and authorities turn a blind eye instead of facilitating recycling.

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 

      6 years ago

      We will "reap what we sow", to coin a phrase. See you around the galaxy...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      i am in the eco club at my school but i never would have joined if it wasnt for this long yet informative article on recycling i never used to care until i found out about the dangers of my actions against the planet

      anonymous visitor

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      It is my pleasure to return here with angel dust....I was last here in 2010 and your words still ring as true as ever. Congratulations for being selected as one of the Best of Squidoo - Earth Day 2012!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Alas, I put this in for the LOTD for Earth Day but it didn't make it...maybe next year.

    • joannalynn lm profile image

      joannalynn lm 

      6 years ago

      I had no idea Iran had such severe pollution. Your lens is well deserving of a purple star.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      If you put a fungus in a closed container with food, eventually it will die in the waste that it produces. We live on a finite planet. And we're supposed to be smarter than a fungus.

    • Tonigr profile image

      Toni Grundstrom 

      6 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Good information. This will get many people to think about ow they handle their recycled items. Blessed.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't think this will become an issue again anytime soon. Metals in particular are so valuable that where I live there is so much theft of trash and metal that recycling centers have been forced to keep track of people that turn it in.

    • earthybirthymum profile image


      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Kids need to grow up green so it's second nature to them and sill be fore generations to come. Great Lense, many blessings.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Facts like these should be repeatedly broadcasted on tv and radio, in schools and, above all in every parliament session. The situation is I'm afraid far more serious than we all can imagine.

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 

      6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Very nicely done and Squid Angel blessed. If we don't recycle? We will suffocate in our own garbage like those people on Hoarders!

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 

      6 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      To us? Probably very little, but future generations are going to have a pretty poor standard of life and it's going to be our fault. It's incredibly sad how little progress we've made on this despite most people claiming they care about the issue.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      Stopping back by to sprinkle a blessing. Thank you for addressing such a critical issue. Appreciated!

    • vetochemicals profile image


      6 years ago from Pittsburgh Pa

      I'd love to link this informative article to my How to Celebrate Earth Day if it's ok with you!

    • Aquavel profile image


      6 years ago

      Important info. Important then. Essential now!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Too much pollution on the Earth. This is very harmful to all of us and the main reason behind global warming.

    • AlphaChic profile image


      6 years ago

      Very germane points and congrats on the purple star.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      You've brought to light many important facts about the importance of recycling.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      Good page. Interesting that most of what you wrote back then is just as relevant now.. I'd love to see the statistics updated and compared to the 1980 stats.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The message is getting across just very slow this is speeding it up a bit


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