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Recycling isn’t working

By | Matthew Hable

Recycling is not as sustainable as you might think. It has become a wasteful movement that was beneficial during the early stages of the environmental movement. Now the cost outweighs the satisfaction we get out of recycling.

“Recycling has been relentlessly promoted as a goal in and of itself: an unalloyed public good and private virtue that is indoctrinated in students from kindergarten through college,” wrote John Tierney, journalist and self-described “contrarian” for the New York Times. “As a result, otherwise well-informed and educated people have no idea of the relative costs and benefits.”

To put it in another way, most recycling advocates are unaware of the cost of transportation, labor and production of renewable materials that ultimately defeats the purpose of saving the planet.

Recyclers are validated by the collective consciousness of fellow believers. They don’t realize the wastefulness that occurs after rolling the recycling bin to the curb. Why did things get worse? The short answer is the success of an ongoing marketing campaign that resonates with a growing population of millennials and aging liberals.

Since the advent of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” idea, recycling received the most attention. Why? Because there’s barely any money in reducing or reusing. If you think about it, recycling starts its capitalistic cycle from our wallets to the bins or recycling centers, then to the manufacturing plants, the businesses and back to burning a hole in our pockets.

So, there you have it, reduce consumption and reuse your renewable materials. Buy used products and learn how to repair them if they break. Borrow, rent or share if you can. The point is to reduce the disadvantages of recycling that is practiced by too many people and apply smarter solutions to climate change. If enough of us consume less and reuse more, the act of recycling can reclaim its integrity. It’s all about balance.

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