Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Against recycling

To be against recycling is to say something politically incorrect. But this is not the first time I've said something politically incorrect. And I'm not against the original idea behind recycling so much as what the institution has become, namely, a license or excuse for individuals and corporations to both consume and produce more and more waste while at the same time proclaiming that one is doing something good for the environment by "recycling."

I put "recycling" in scare-quotes because it ain't what it used to be. If memory serves me correctly, before recycling became so popular and politically correct, it began its career as one of the "3 Rs": Reduce, Reuse, Recyle. It comes at the end of the list because, in terms of reducing waste and pollution, it is the least important - almost an afterthought. But today recycling is all-important.

Recycling is the lazy man's idea of Reduce and Reuse. It is much easier (and often cheaper) to "recycle" (read: throw away) rather than repair something in disrepair, use reusable items, or reduce waste (by-)products. If the problem is that in the future we will have nowhere to safely dispose of waste, then recycling as an answer is like solving the problem of long lines by telling people to stand closer together: it's a temporary solution, but the problem which gave rise to it has not gone away.

Go ahead and continue to recycle—really, it's better than nothing—just don't tell me you're doing the environment a favor.


Anonymous said...

Don't recycle anything except metal (tin, aluminum, etc.). If you do, you're wasting more energy than you're saving, creating more wasteful by-products, and generally screwing things up.


Anonymous said...

Matthes ~

for serious? cite your source (requested in an open, curious tone, by someone who really wants to know; not spoken in our usual condescending, battle-of-the-minds tone).