Are We Too Lazy To Recycle?

There is a lot of very emotive language used in the debate over recycling – as indeed there is over any environmental issue. One side will accuse the other of being too lazy and selfish to recycle, and the other will accuse the first of being guilt-tripped and gullible for falling for something that basically gives them a clear conscience for a short spell of time. The question does need to be asked; are we lazy and selfish? Are we easily guilt-tripped? Or should both sides calm down and get on with our lives?

It may not be selfish laziness that prevents people from recycling, but there is probably more that everyone could do to avoid the very real and tangible problems that are caused by a lack of recycling. It cannot be denied that recycling saves a lot in terms of the energy that goes into manufacturing, as well as the money that that energy costs to make and the resources – many of which are natural and exhaustible – which are required for the process.

Is it idealistic, naive and bone-headed to argue the case for recycling? Some people might say it is, but when you look at the facts it makes a lot of sense to prepare for a future when we cannot rely on non-renewable forms of energy, by making sure that we use the alternatives as far as is practical in this day and age. If it takes a little bit longer to separate the garbage, what is that when set against the likely far greater expense of paying for repairs on the fly?

Our Addiction To Disposable

We as human beings have an alarming tendency to just throw things away when we’re finished with them. When you think about it, this tendency is a little big pig-headed. We can easily afford to keep disposing of things, can’t we? So what is the problem? Well, when you think about it, the problem is that things don’t just magically disappear when they aren’t being used. When we throw things in the trash, they end up in a landfill decomposing, usually quite slowly.

There is a fairly common response to this, and it is to ignore it. Many people have an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude to waste disposal. If we can’t see it, it is not there, right? Except it is. And although it may sound like the desperate cries of a hippy, we do only have one planet and we just cannot keep throwing stuff away and burying it when we’re finished with it. Garbage doesn’t decompose in the blink of an eye, and much of what we throw away will take hundreds of years to biodegrade. When you think of the rate at which we throw things away, that adds up to a headache.

So why do we keep throwing our garbage away? Some of it, it’s fair to say, cannot be recycled, but what about the rest? The plastic bottles could be recycled, the paper could be recycled and so could many of the gadgets we just throw away. We dispose of that stuff because it is easier. What kind of sense does that make?