You always hear people talk about recycling, but that has its own set of issues. Is recycling a sham? Tell us more about “refusing” trend.Learn more about the book and author at Edward Humes's website.
Recycling is no sham — it’s an important piece of the war on waste. It’s just not the best piece. Recycling itself creates waste — it’s a kind of last resort, better than the landfill, but only just. Compared to refusing, reducing and reusing, recycling is a very inefficient way of dealing with waste, and often can’t be done cost-effectively. Recycling actually encourages waste, easing the conscience of consumers who can feel free to buy wasteful products such as bottled water (which really is a sham), knowing the empties will be recycled and believing, falsely, that recycling solves the problem of waste.
Refusing to buy wasteful products is a far better strategy. There’s nothing rude or wrong about saying no to disposable products and packaging, or to refusing unwanted catalogs and junky promotional giveaways. Refusing wasteful items creates a market force for being less wasteful; accepting the fruits of the disposable economy only encourages more waste. Here’s just two facts that should make anyone enthusiastic about refusing: 30% of what we throw away consists of containers and packaging — instant trash. And 43% of U.S. mail is junk mail. We are paying for all that waste, and getting nothing for it. The government even subsidizes junk mail by...[read on]
Humes is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 12 nonfiction books, including a trilogy of environmental works: Eco Barons, Force of Nature, and Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash.
The Page 99 Test: Force of Nature.
The Page 99 Test: Garbology.