Sunday, December 7, 2008

Real Greenies Don't Recycle

We recycle only about half the glass that comes into our apartment--mostly the wine bottles, and then only if I can't use them for a vase (some of them are really fugly).

The other half does not get thrown out. It gets put to good use--holding screws, blackberry jelly, acting as pseudo-tupperware, holding things like corks and pencils and beads, as containers for stock, etc. I sometimes wonder how I ever got along with virtually no glass jars.

Why do we recycle at all? There are only two good reasons to recycle:

1) Essentially nonrenewable resources: paper, for instance. Yes, I know, trees are grown in specially manicured forests etc etc, but the fact is they grow at a much slower rate than our current need for paper. Hence the "essentially".

2) To decrease the amount of crap going to the landfills. Especially the nonbiodegradeable crap. Like glass. And styrofoam, too--but that one might actually degrade, given enough gasoline.

From some points of view, recycling is a terrible waste of resources. You have to drive a special truck to pick it up. The crap gets sent down lots of conveyor belts--using tons of electricity from what is most likely going to be a fossil-fuel burning plant. People get paid to sift through it. More resources are used to reconstitute the crap into its original form.

Is it worth it? When you consider how much crap we throw away on a daily basis--coffee filters, coffee grounds, small paper scraps, food scraps, broken things, food containers--one must wonder exactly how much of a difference a single can of Coke is going to make to the net amount of crud going to the landfill.

But then consider how many resources are devoted to, say, quarrying aluminum, hauling the raw ore to a refinery/smelting plant, smelting out the metal from the slag, shipping it to companies who bang on it and make nuts and bolts and cans, etc.

Recycling is worthwhile. But it should not be considered Green, but rather as the lesser of two evils.

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