A Bunch of Garbage


Why do people recycle?

There’s something about recycling that gives people that special feeling inside, as if you are a part of something bigger than yourself. You’re saving money and – more importantly – the environment.

I will prove recycling (in most cases) does not save any money and it does not protect the environment.

In 1989, Jay Winston Porter, then assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, wrote and mass-distributed “An Agenda for Action” phamphlet, saying “recycling is absolutely vital.” Vital for whom?

Daniel Benjamin, professor at Clemson University and political economist, said the government uses subsidies – read: tax dollars – to fund recycling programs.

How much exactly are taxpayers paying to recycle? According to Sean Hannity’s Web site, it’s about $8 billion a year.

Porter said it costs your local municipality $150 per ton to pick up recyclables, whereas it only costs $50 per ton to pick up your normal trash.

The American Metal Market publication states Imco Recycling Incorporated, a Texas-based company, posted a net loss of more than $58 million from its recycling program in the first quarter of 2002.

I guess recycling is vital for some – the government.

Don’t fret, though. There is one thing you can recycle. Recycling aluminum does save money. It costs less to make a new aluminum can from an old one than it does to produce it from raw materials. That is why people rifle through your trash for your aluminum cans, not plastic or paper.

But aluminum is only one aspect of recycling. Paper, cardboard and plastic all cost more to recycle than to produce brand new. Raw materials are cheaper – it is that simple.

That in itself might not be enough to convince you, because recycling still saves the environment, right? And we have trees to worry about.

Here is a little known fact: There are tree farms where trees are specifically grown to be cut down for paper. The trees our evil capitalist government so maliciously destroys to produce more and more paper are on this planet for one reason and one reason only: to be turned into paper.

It’s like planting a carrot to eat it. That makes sense, right? What this means is that the more paper we produce, the more trees we plant. Want more trees to wrap your big arms around? Start wasting more paper.

So recycling doesn’t destroy trees; thus, it doesn’t save the environment.

What if it actually hurts the environment? Think about it: garbage trucks don’t pick up your recyclables, so this means a second smog-producing truck comes to your house to pick up your paper and plastic. Then these items are taken to a recycling center where air pollution is produced during the process of recycling.

Trash picked up by the first truck is taken to a landfill instead of to a recycling factory. But wait, aren’t landfills evil, polluting masses of garbage that produce deadly, explosive methane gas and leak deadly poison into the ground?

Before a landfill is built, it must meet specific details. For instance, it must be layered with protection between the garbage and the soil, which usually means a few feet of clay and sometimes a rubber diaper, according to Dr. Craig Freudenrich, who received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a doctorate in physiology. Landfills also have to be isolated from groundwater, so they don’t pollute the water.

Additionally, landfills harvest the methane gas they produce, keeping the landfill from exploding and emitting deadly gas. Actually, a landfill in Whittier, Calif., even uses the methane gas it produces to create electricity, powering nearby homes.

After a landfill’s garbage is covered, plants are planted on top, and usually the landfill is turned into a park or a golf course.

You say that recycling feels good, saves money and protects the environment?

That, my friends, is a bunch of garbage.

Chuck Armstrong is a junior in English education. Please send comments to [email protected]