Recycling doesn’t pollute much less than throwing things out compared to not using stuff in the first place

June 27, 2015 by Joshua
in Nature

People think recycling pollutes a lot less than throwing things out. They don’t seem that different when I compare them both to not using stuff you’d have to throw away anyway. Even reusing something beats recycling.

Recycling plants have to send a lot of stuff to landfills. They use plenty of energy. This article, “American recycling is stalling, and the big blue bin is one reason why,” which reminds us that recycling has problems, got me thinking about it, not that the article doesn’t have flaws (in particular that it doesn’t promote reducing consumption).

In other words, recycling still pollutes. I think of it as a last resort after resorting to using something that pollutes and not being able to reuse an old one. That it pollutes less than throwing out doesn’t change that it pollutes. Blowing a little smoke in a baby’s face is still blowing smoke in a baby’s face, and what else are you doing if you put pollution into the environment?

Not using something in the first place so you don’t have to throw anything away after doesn’t pollute. Of course, you can’t live without using energy and you have to interact with the environment and some things recycle so effectively, using them pollutes very little.

Still, I hope people move toward using less stuff, not just buying things that are promoted as green or thinking that recycling things magically makes them not pollute.

Read my weekly newsletter

Initiative leadership spodek

On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

2 responses on “Recycling doesn’t pollute much less than throwing things out compared to not using stuff in the first place

  1. Yup, that’s some simple truth here. Don’t buy it if you don’t really need it.

    • So simple to say. Most people find it difficult in practice.

      The more I get rid of my stuff the more challenging getting rid of the stuff that’s left is, like things I’ve had almost my whole life and now seem like I should value them. I wish I hadn’t accepted it in the first place.

      It makes not accepting or buying stuff today easier. I wish more people didn’t get or give so much junk.

Leave a Reply

Sign up for my weekly newsletter