Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why I don't recycle

Via Samizata I came across this, which is funny, and this, which isn't. What they both say, in a nutshell, is that recycling, with the lone exception of aluminium cans, costs more and wastes more resources than making things from scratch. In fact it costs 3 times as much. Another source for costs is Friends of the Earth, who estimate that it costs us £375m to provide a doorstep recycling scheme. In the US it's closer to 8bn. And it's all pointless.

We're not saving the planet by recycling, we're not running out of landfill space, we're not saving money.

So why are governments and people so keen on recycling? I think that these are separate questions. People like recycling because it makes them feel good. It gives them a sense of agency, which reduces anxiety, and makes them feel part of something bigger than themselves, which also reduces anxiety. Also the government lies to them and says that it works.

Governments, on the other hand, like recycling because it looks as though they are doing something, and because it provides lots of jobs for the boys (50,000 according to FoE). It's popular with voters, for the reasons mentioned above, so the government continues to propagate the myth. Additionally, any form of control over our behaviour appeals to the authoritarian nature of our government. Remember, Hitler was a green.

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