In the Loop

In the Loop: February 1, 2007 Archive

Talking trash about recycling?

Posted at 2:39 PM on February 1, 2007 by Sanden Totten

recyclecans.jpgDo you get a buzz when you recycle? I do. I've been known to pick up someone else's empty pop can and carry it with me half the day until I find a little blue bin to toss it into. It's a do-gooder's high. (Photo by timtak, via Creative Commons license.)

Well, I got a total buzz-kill the other day when I started coming across studies and articles that took a shot at the benefits of recycling. One story from a 1996 issue of the New York Times magazine argued that the process of recycling creates its own host of environmental problems, not to mention the fact that it's a costly endeavor. A professor from Clemson University follows suit with Recycling Myths . He argues that tossing recyclables is smarter economic sense than re-purposing them, saying that; "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."

Of course there are rebuttals to these arguments . They make the case that recycling has tangible benefits and as the programs mature they will become more cost and energy effective. They just need time to grow.

Both sides seem to agree that recycling certainly makes us feel good. But in reality the best way to save resources is not to recycle more, but use less in the first place.

February 2007
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