ric_frost (ric_frost) wrote,
ric_frost
ric_frost

Recycling to Armageddon

While we were in Michigan for Debbie's family reunion, I noticed certain of her family members digging through the trash pulling out "recyclables". I tried to explain that since China, in retaliation for Trump's tariffs, had stopped taking imports of American garbage, and that as a result, the nation's "recyclable" garbage was piling up in port cities and "recycling" facilities. A great deal of it is going into landfills. The rest is being shipped to other Asian destinations who don't even pretend to recycle it; they just burn the stuff in open pits. But at least we get to feel good about buying water in little teeny plastic bottles instead of just installing a water filter.

In any case, I thought of that little episode while catching up on my Lee Camp viewing and stumbling across this sweet little bit:



Being an old fart from when all this was called "ecology", I actually know what that little triangle/arrow thingy with the number in the middle means. A triangle was used because it was supposed to represent a three-step process: Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. In other words, step one is quit buying so much useless crap. Step two, when you do buy stuff, think about what it could be repurposed for at end of life. Then as a last ditch effort to keep it out of a landfill, find a way to recycle it. But being Americans, we were quick to realize that there is no profit in buying less shit or reusing our shit. Recycling, however, could be a multi-billion dollar corporate business that is only profitable because the entire population is guilt-tripped into being unpaid labor and most collection is taxpayer-subsidized. The new triangle/arrow thingy now means: Buy! Buy!! Buy!!! Buy!!!! (but only at eco-friendly stores) - Reuse? Are you nuts? What will my hipster friends think? - Carefully sort the result into the proper bins and tell ourselves what wonderful people we are.

The irony in all this is, as Lee Camp points out, we are using more resources and more energy with all this "recycling" than if everyone just went back to tossing everything into a trash can.
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