Do you know the facts about recycling? Are you skeptical about the process and how beneficial recycling truly is? You’re not alone. Ben Shapiro discusses how he discovered the downsides to recycling through the media and why he researched further to uncover the truth.
The Dark Side of Recycling Hype
I, like the majority of others, always was fed the fact that recycling is all good and grand and is saving the world. Recently, it has been brought to my attention that it’s not so perfect.
I have become a fan of the alternative “3 R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Refrain (previously “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”). Refrain from recycling, that is. Before you begin your harshly worded angry comment about how I’m the reason the earth is ruined, let me just start by saying that I am, by no means, a right wing anti-environment, anti-earth, pro-1% kind of person. That’s not me. But I do think recycling should be pushed much less because is not what it’s put out to be in the media. Recycling is counterproductive energy-wise, it causes many pollutants, degrades the quality of the finished product, it’s extremely cost inefficient, and ironically, it’s harmful to the environment.
The paragraph above is what I had written after I saw an episode of a show called Penn & Teller: Bull****. The episode was about how they think recycling is bull****. After watching, I made my opinion known to my family and friends that I strongly disagreed with recycling and made a point not to recycle. I didn’t like how the government forces you into it by limiting the amount of garbage you can get collected each week. Also, from the information that I heard from the show, it didn’t seem that practical.
So, I started to write a strongly opinionated article about how recycling is bad and why I don’t do it. I thought, after writing the opening paragraph, that I should do some research to find some exact statistics on top of what I learn from watching the show. What I found mostly contradicted the show.
Uncovering the Truth About Recycling
See, it turns out that while recycling does use quite a bit of energy, it is energy that would have been used otherwise in the burning of the garbage. Recycling kind of breaks even with garbage there. The pollutants, again, are either equal or less than the pollutants of burning and disposing of waste. Yes, the melting of the plastic does release CO2 into the atmosphere, but let’s be honest, without CO2 we’d all die of cold.
On the quality of the finish product, if you don’t like the quality of recycled paper, don’t buy recycled paper. Most people don’t mind the quality downgrade because the recycled material is used for toilet paper, newspapers, scrap paper, stuff to write on, etc. With plastic and glass, the quality difference is not so immense.
In 2002 in New York City, they found that their recycling program was losing a lot of money so they cut glass and plastic out of it. What happened was that low demand for those materials meant that much of it was ending up in landfills anyway so they lost even more money. Recycling cost twice as much as disposal but makes up for it in the closing of landfills and the higher demand. As cities gain more experience in recycling, it will start to become more and more cost efficient.
Why Researching the Facts About Recycling Pays Off
As you can see here, it is not always wise to trust the media. Anything that seems like truth could be a lie and anything that seems like a lie could be the truth. I have learned my lesson to do more research before I jump to conclusions. I was trying very hard to be a skeptic of something popular, but maybe I should have been more of a skeptic of my source.
Well, now we know. Reduce, reuse and recycle, not just on earth day, but every day. We don’t quite know what is causing this thing called global warming, but if it happens to be us, we’ve got to contain it. Happy Earth Day.
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Do you think the media plays up recycling? How do you separate truth from fiction? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.