What is this, the 90s?
I can hear the plaintive cry of my readers now, “Recycling? I do that already!” and “A recycling PSA is older than Y2K!”.
Yes, all of that is true. The calls for the citizens to perform their civic duty and to carefully separate their trash into those three colored bins have been around forever. If you’re a millennial, it’s probably been around your whole life.
And yet, the statistics are sobering. According to Recycle Across America, less than 35% of households and less than 10% of businesses in the US recycle, a level which has barely budged over the past 15 years. Whereas the EPA estimates that 75% of American waste is recyclable.
Why the 3.5x multiplier between the rate of household recycling and business recycling?
I do not know the exact answer, but here are my thoughts on the matter. It is our capitalistic society. It is our worship of business. It is our culture which glorifies the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Our pursuit of the greenback that kills the real greenery on this planet.
When we are in our place of business, during business hours we are focused, driven, to keep the capitalistic engine running. It is no surprise then that the act of recycling, which would necessitate the spending of extra time and money, would be conveniently forgotten. Perhaps some business owners would even justify it in their heads by saying that it’s ok because they recycle their trash at home?
As I said, speculative, but not surprising.
Now let’s look at the common objections against recycling:
Inconvenience. Ah yes, the most common and yet the most truthful objection. Inconvenience. Meaning that the additional time and energy expenditure is deemed not worth it to such people. This is nothing but pure selfishness. Humans are such short-sighted creatures, we see the short-term price and deem it too costly but yet we fail to see that the very future of the planet and our children is at stake. However, as human nature is unlikely to change anytime soon, local government and councils need to step up efforts to make the act of recycling as convenient as possible. Basic economics: Reduce price, increase demand.
Ignorance. Some people are simply not informed on the true benefits of recycling. I don’t blame them. These days in the information age, skepticism against governments and ‘established’ science is at an all-time high. The internet, that wonderful creation of ours, allows such groups of people to easily form closed enclaves of group-think that cross geographical boundaries but form ideological ones. This is a big reason for the existence of this site, to provide people with non-biased data and conclusions showing the benefits of recycling to both us and environment.
Apathy. The existential malaise of our generation. “Couldn’t care less”. “Too cool for school”. “It doesn’t matter anyway, brah”. This is not a reason but simply an excuse. These are the people who when in malls, make it a point of personal pride to throw their perfectly recyclable paper cup , plastic bag, or protein powder tub into the trash bin (pro-tip: buy the disposable 10lb bags and use your old 5lb tubs for ease of use; and to make sure you get your whey protein for cheap, go to The Protein Investor for a market analysis on the best cheap whey protein powders on the market right now), right next to the recycling bins. Unfortunately, no amount of education or ease of recycling can help these people, they are simply the equivalent of bitter and hateful online trolls. It is likely that they suffer from intense levels of self-hatred, which they deal with by attempting to bring everyone down with them. They probably identify greatly with the Joker’s philosophy of “some men just want to watch the world burn”.
And that’s all for today, folks! Apologies for the preachy tone, future articles will lean more towards the actual facts and statistics.