Posted at Dean’s World here.
Last night The Family watched Dirty Jobs – a show on the Discovery Channel that sends a guy out to do some of the nation’s dirtiest jobs. One of the jobs was sorting recyclable materials from trash at a recycling center. If memory serves, garbage trucks from the Bay Area carted recyclable materials to a center filled with conveyor belts that moved the stuff around as people sorted it into paper, plastic, glass, metal and trash. Mike Rowe, the host of the show, worked alongside one of the sorters, asking him all kinds of questions about the job. Paper was compacted into bales weighing a ton. The center produced 400 of these a day, and sold them for about $130-200 a bale.
“See why I nag you to sort the recycling first?” The Wife nudzhed me.
I remained silent, doing the math in my head. 400 x $200=$80,000/day for paper. Not too shabby on its own, but as I stared at the numerous lengthy conveyor belts that snaked their way through a large well-lit center filled with moving cranes and fork lifts and I began to wonder about the overhead costs – both economic and environmental.
There was the cost of electricity to run the conveyor belts, lights and other machines. The electricity most likely came from a powerplant burning fossil fuels. Then there was the cost of the diesel used by the fork lifts and garbage trucks. Diesels aren’t the cleanest engines on the planet (yet – although I’ve read they are much improved). I imagined them driving around the Bay Area collecting recycling while spewing pollution into the air. That struck me as a bit nonsensical.
They didn’t mention glass. The materials for glass making are some of the most abundant on earth, and recycling glass takes a lot of water and energy to do. When you look at the entire lifecycle, does recycling a glass bottle make sense rather than making a new one?
Here’s an in-depth rticle that discusses just that. It’s conclusion: If you are concerned about the environment, recycling doesn’t help. There’s only one solution: Use less.
It’s important in a marriage to choose your battles carefully. It will take me years to convince the Wife that if she wants to help the environment she should read the Sunday paper online, avoid glass bottles and when she can’t – throw them away in the trash. She was indoctrinated at the University of California to believe that recycling is good for the environment ie An environmental group said it. I believe it. That settles it. It is a dogma that she hasn’t questioned much over the years, and honestly, I wasn’t up to rocking her world on a Tuesday night after a long day in the NICU.
But the fact remains: Recycling is bad for the environment. Using less is good. So the mainstream media (MSM) isn’t just biased and elitist: it’s bad for the environment too.
Who said Conservatives weren’t green?