Friday, May 22, 2009

Recycling IS for Dummies


I think by this point, if there is anyone out there reading this, you should now what to expect. For those of you who have stumbled upon my blog while searching for different ways to turn your used shopping bags into sandals or the efficacy of eating your dead skin, this could be painful.
First of all, let me say that I dutifully and loyally collect all my cardboard, beer cans and other recyclables and pile them into the car once a month and carry them over to the big recycling bins at the local SuperMart. It used to really piss me off when my dad would collect all this stuff and then expect me to help him dump it off, you guessed it, once a month, but now in my old age, I am doing the same damn thing. The environmental movement tells me to recycle and not kill baby seals; well, those are both things I can do without really l affecting my lifestyle, so hey, I'm on board.
First the obvious. It seemed like only yesterday when governments, municipalities and most importantly businesses where shunning the idea of recycling. "Its too expensive" they said, "what will we do with all that material" they said, "We don't have the technology to make this cost-effective" they said. Well, presumably, based on the fact that everybody, everywhere is now told, suggested and obliged to recycle, somebody, somewhere is getting filthy freaking rich. No surprises here.
But where is that money actually coming from? Well, lets look at cost savings to a municipality. By recycling, you are basically delivering your garbage directly to a central location, so your local government doesn't need to provide as many garbage trucks to the community as it once did. That equals pay raises and bonuses where I come from: "Hey guys, what if we actually convinced people that they should be responsible for their own garbage!". Now, we each obligingly drive our gas guzzling SUV's down to the bins so some brainy entrepreneur somewhere can recycle your pizza boxes into toilet paper. Now here is the genius of the situation: you actually pay MORE for second hand toilet paper! That's right, anything bearing the "recycled from" or "contains post consumer" whatever, will cost you roughly 10% more than the brand new, three ply that required 48 trees to produce. Well, that's okay, its for the environment, right? We don't mind paying a little extra....
Okay, so at this point, you've used your car to deliver garbage to the dump, you've paid a little extra for the product your garbage has been transmogrified into (Indian giver), and you've supplied, for free, a rich business guy with raw materials he needs to get richer. But it doesn't end there. You remember all those bottles and cans and jars and containers you have been collecting and cleaning in order to protect the environment? Well, guess what, you also had the privilege of paying for the water that was used to clean the items (which means the cigar chomping business tycoon just used your sink and your dollars to prepare his raw materials for processing) not to mention the fact that you have contributed to water pollution by using a non bio-degradable soap, because you spent the last of your grocery money on bio-degradable garbage bags!
BUT ITS NOT OVER YET!!! If you're lucky enough to live in a city or town that actually collects your recyclables, think about the extra gas that has to go into the specially designed trucks to pick up your jars and cans and bottles; and think of the factories, pumping out toxic waste while building the specially designed trucks; now think about the steel mills, belching out poisonous gases while producing the metals needed to build the specially designed trucks, not the mention the pillaging and raping of the landscape committed by the mining companies of the world, clearing huge tracks of land for the raw materials needed to satisfy your insatiable demand for recycling.
So instead of simply piling our garbage up into nice flat layers, and building low income housing on them (as has been done for generations, mind you), we now have become consumers of the garbage processing industry. And all to save our environment. Fat chance.

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Rob's Tots said...

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