The ultimate in recycling is to mail the same essay word for word to all the colleges to which you are applying. While a fantasy for past applicants, this is increasingly becoming a reality through the growing acceptance of the Common Application.
The Common Application is a single application that over 275 schools accept in place of their own application. This means that if you are applying to more than one school that accepts the Common Application, you can send the same exact application to each of these schools. Get more information on the Common Application at www.commonapp.org. Note that some schools that accept the Common Application require their own supplemental forms.
And for those schools that do not accept the Common Application which unfortunately is still the majority, you will need to learn the art of recycling.