Why Recycling Doesn’t Work
When I was in school back in the Dark Ages, our English literature books were filled with exotic and fascinating stories from authors around the world. We had the opportunity to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations that were as alien to our way of thinking as anything Captain Kirk and crew ever discovered.
Unfortunately, the tides of war, politics and education change with the winds. Imagine my surprise when most of the selections in one school literature book under the section “What is Worth Fighting For?” is all about conservation, recycling, and saving water.
REALLY? With all the hurt, chaos, and problems the world faces, we’re going to brainwash the next generation into thinking saving a few gallons of water each day is worth fighting for?
I firmly believe we have a responsibility to care for our environment, but the pendulum has swung too far afield and for the wrong reasons. That is why recycling won’t work. It’s not really about taking care of the environment or making sure those who don’t have get some. It’s about control and making people feel badly for what they’ve been given, provided, or earned.
Take water, as a case in point. The author suggests punishing the extravagant Americans for their water usage by installing regulators to shut the water off at 13 gallons a day. As if that would help someone in another county without water. While great care and effort is taken in the article to explain how expensive it is to clean and purify water and how much we waste (water hogs – America has 1% of the 3% of freshwater world wide), nothing is mentioned about the other factors involved in the water issue.
Location, politics, lack of funding, lack of education, lack of natural resources, priorities, religion–all these play an important role in maintaining clean and adequate water. And overseas none of that is influenced by whether or not Americans run the water while brushing their teeth.
If you are really concerned about providing clean water for everyone, why not be a part of organizations like Holden Uganda.org which builds wells to provide fresh water for people living in Uganda? Do something that actually benefits someone else.
Instead, we jump on the conservation/recycle bandwagon simply because it makes us “feel better.” We don’t have to look at the true situation, we aren’t called on to anything that would really affect or change something else. Americans are notorious for “emotional” outbursts designed to puff out our chests and say “see what I’m doing?”, “look at me, I care.”
The truth of the matter is the Earth is very well provided for and capable of self regenerating without any help from humanity. Sure, there are things we can do to make it better and protect what we have. The reforestation projects are one example. Desalination plants would benefit dry areas of the world more effectively than complaining about the technology here that gives us fresh clean water the rest of the world would like to have. Instead of pouring billions of dollars into a propaganda campaign, why not pour the money into building those desal plants which would actually help someone?
Why not educate students about organizations providing fresh water, building wells, contributing to the health and welfare of other people? Why not encourage a new generation of people to think about others instead of themselves?
But that’s what the recycling programs are all about, one argues. No, they’re not. They are about making people feel guilty and guilty people don’t help others, they rationalize their actions.
Recycling isn’t simply moving garbage from one location to another, which is what 90% of recycling efforts in America are. Recycling isn’t good if you must use up or waste one resource in order to “save” another. Recycling is re-purposing what one has, giving something a second life. Want examples? Study the Depression Era in the United States. Flour sacks were turned into underwear and dresses, tablecloths and napkins. Torn clothing was sewn into warm and sturdy quilts. Empty cans were used as candle holders and storage bins. Lard buckets became lunch boxes.
While America runs around screaming recycle, the rest of the world struggles to survive. I don’t think anyone is impressed with our rhetoric.