I Am Done Recycling
After so many years of trying to be a good steward to the earth and a conscientious participant in garbage management, I am done with recycling.
As a young man, I used to collect pop cans, crush pop cans and take them in for a couple of dollars. Filled a pickup bed with cardboard for a couple bucks more.
In recent years I have spent hours sorting the materials, rinsing out containers, loading up my car, and delivering and depositing into various containers at various locales.
I have driven in wintertime and fought off the wasps of summer to do this. My “carbon footprint” grew from driving all over to find a receptacle for this stuff.
I have complied with every restriction from the recycling companies: no screw-on lids on bottles, no Styrofoam, no #1 plastic in black, no #2 plastic in white, shredded office paper in plastic bags, and so forth.
That’s it. I am done with recycling.
I wondered why I was feeling this way, and I think it relates to our convenience lifestyle. With little computers in our hands, home automation, grocery pick-up and delivery, and online banking, we thrive on convenience. So, the idea of giving a little effort to save the planet and slow the fill of landfills seemed reasonable.
But the current situation has swung that pendulum into the other extreme. Recycling has become another chore, right up there with cleaning bathrooms and mowing lawns.
Now, I’m sure some recycling company in the area will happily offer me the service where they will drop off a nice green bin for me to fill with only the recyclable materials that they will accept, pick up and empty this bin twice a month, and charge me for the service.
I would only consider the service if the charge was $10/month, the same cost I incurred in gasoline to deliver it myself, and the company accepted every type of material. That means plastics in #1, 2, 4, 5, 6 and whatever else has the little three-arrow symbol stamped on it, in whatever color; office paper, newspaper, and magazine paper; brown cardboard and cereal-box cardboard; grocery sack and bread sacks, aluminum cans and aluminum foil. I would still rinse containers out and shake the crumbs out because I don’t want the bugs, but I will sort no more, store no more, and deliver no more.
Until that infrastructure is in place so that recycling is no longer such a burdensome inconvenience, I just as soon use the trash can and let it all fill the landfills. Get more benefit from the methane if so equipped to collect it for energy. And when the landfills are full and we start fussing over what to do, we will have no one to blame but our consumer packaging culture and woefully inadequate recycling industry.