Friday, February 22, 2013

We Need Less Recycling

Amtrak has signs up to "Train Yourself to Recycle - Join us in our efforts to clean up the environment by recycling your waste"

The problem is that they then turn around and use disposable plates, cups, paper table cloths, bottled water, etc. And worse, they use "fancy" plates and cups that require even more materials and energy to produce.

Not producing garbage is far better than recycling it. Not using a disposable plate means not manufacturing it or transporting it or using energy to recycle (some fraction) of it.

And "green" disposable products aren't a solution either. Regardless of what they're made of, or whether they are compostable, a disposable product still means you're throwing away embodied energy after a single use.

And don't forget that "recycling" is mostly an oxymoron. Very few things are recycled into the same original product. In most cases they are "down-cycled" into different, lower quality products.

Often "recycling" is just another kind of green-washing. It lets us escape our guilt and feel better but it doesn't really solve the problem.

Don't get me wrong, if you're going to use disposable products then please recycle. But even better, avoid disposable products in the first place.

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