Ok. Here we go. I don’t recycle. Sorry.
I had a friend over the other day and he was shocked! Shocked that I didn’t have a separate place for him to put the empty bottles of beer that he had drunk while hanging out with me. Years back I had a similar problem with a co-worker who was horrified that I wasn’t separating my work trash and taking the recyclables home with me to deposit in my local program. My girlfriend, a pretty hard core liberal type still feels a bit queasy that we don’t recycle. And today I see on a bunch of Philly blogs how people are upset that Philadelphians recycle program gets only 6% of the recyclables in the city.
Let me just state my case. As a very conscious supporter of protecting the environment and more importantly as a very hard core supporter of doing things that are smart I was originally in favor of recycling. This had to be 10 years ago now. I was all excited to do it, but at the time Philly had no program and there really was no easy way to participate. So I didn’t.
In the interim I started to see reports and stories on tv and in the papers about this new recycling fad. From what I saw, the majority of them talked about the fact that mass recycling was actually more expensive to do and in some cases really didn’t have any positive impact on the environment. I saw video footage of warehouses filled with plastic bottles and heard stories about how nobody would buy the raw recycled goods since it was far cheaper to make the goods from scratch, etc.
I had decided then that the whole deal, while utopian sounding, was really just a waste of my time and my money (as a taxpayer). I decided not to participate and put it out of my mind.
But now I face my friends and family on the issue and I am unarmed. I don’t have the reports to show them or the tv programs (except for a wonderful episode of Bullshit that came out on the subject last year that I probably could get a copy of on DVD).
So I took some time to look around and found a very nice website called EcoWorld that is supported by Greenpeace and number of other environmental groups. Here is their take on recycling, backed up by a nice webpage on the ‘myths’ of recycling.
Recycling is not always the environmentally correct choice. Many items we recycle come from abundant raw materials and are inert and harmless when dumped. It costs more to recycle these than to bury the used and manufacture the new from scratch. Glass is a perfect example; plastic runs a close second. If throwing away glass and plastic causes us to ever run out of sand and oil byproducts we can mine the landfills and recycle them all at once - it would be cheaper and easier than perpetual recycling. There's plenty of land for landfills, there's very little hazard remaining in modern landfills, and the economics and the environment often favor using them. Trillions are squandered on needless recycling.
So. Don’t ask me to recycle ok? Oh.. by the way. I’ve got solar panels on my roof and I bike before I drive. How about you?