What is the Main Difference Between Recycling and Reusing?

What is the Main Difference Between Recycling and Reusing?

If you are interested in ecology, and you like anything green, you must have heard about the terms recycling and reusing. However, do you know what those terms  mean? Do you know what is the difference between recycling and reusing? Keep reading and learn more.

Along with the technology advances, and the population growth, the need to come up with better ways to deal with disposals has become critical, and every day we can see more and more alternatives to use things that once were trash, in order to turn them into brand new tools, decorations, machines, and other applications.

This is what most people mean by recycling and reusing. However, the truth is these are two slightly different things, even though they share the same mission: help to reduce the waste and save the earth.

Definition of Recycling

Recycling is a process that consists on taking materials that come from old, unused things or even waste, and turn them into new things. These new goods could be the same, something slightly or completely different.

For example, you may recycle old papers and turn them into new paper sheets; or turn an old door into a new chair.

The main characteristic of the recycling process is that it transforms materials into something else, so some work is needed to complete the task. Recycling can be done as part of DIY simple projects or through industrial transformations for more complex recycling projects (e.g., with glass, paper, metal, wood, plastic, etc.).

Definition of Reusing

Reusing is using a product that you would normally throw away after certain usage, whether it is for the same function or not. For example, you can use an old wine bottle to contain juice, or reuse a box to store things.

In the case of reusing, transforming the materials is not necessary. It is just about taking an item and using it for the same purpose, or for a different one, instead of throwing it to the trash.

Recycling vs Reusing

Now that you know the difference between these 2 ecological activities, you may want to start preserving the environment right now. But which one should you choose? Should you focus on reusing or is better to get your hammer and bang some cans to see what to do with them?

Let us review a little bit these 2 conservation methods to know which one is better:


  • It takes materials and turn them into something else
  • Recycling has a monetary cost due to the transformation of the elements
  • Recycling is used mostly in industrial processes
  • The process of recycling can be long and complex
  • Complex and useful products can be designed with recycled materials


  • Reusing does not require any work on the materials used
  • It has a lower cost because other elements are not required most of the times
  • Reusing is mostly a do-it-yourself project
  • It is a short and easy process
  • You can turn old things into simple, useful and decorative elements

So, what will you do from now on? Will you recycle or will you reuse? No matter the option you choose, you will be doing something great for the environment by getting a little greener.