Take this trash and ship it

Given the word association test, “green” no longer prompts a response of, say… “orange”.  It’s more likely to prompt words like “recycling”.

I’d say it’s a great sign of our current environmental awareness, but what aggravates me is that more and more naysayers want you to say that the “green movement” and recycling is simply a waste of time.

For me, that’s unthinkable and I could never subscribe to this small-minded belief.  I have a hard time understanding how there can be a negative side to reusing, reducing and recycling.  Is it selfishness?  Is it laziness?  Is it the unwillingness to take any responsibility?  (The guy at Blockbuster once tried to convince me that the importance and value of recycling is actually “made up!”  Don’t ask me how this conversation got started, but I nearly passed out… “made up?… really?)

But recycling is being challenged and those naysayers want you to believe that it’s all a selfish act of capitalism. Some even suggest burning is a better option. (oh yea.  Burning.  THAT’S going to help.)

Well, I’m a naysayer of the naysayers.  Here are a few facts to keep out of your recycling bin.

Fact: Our “trash”, including scrap paper, metal and plastics, is one of the US’s largest current exports to China.  They purchase our recyclable trash because they don’t have enough raw materials to meet their demand.  In 2002, the US exported $1.2 billion worth of recyclables.  In 2006, the export grew to $6.1 billion. (Excellent!)

Fact: Recycling requires 90% less energy than making aluminum cans from ore or plastics from oil, plus it creates less waste and pollution.  (Argue with THAT Blockbuster guy!)

So who is capitalizing on this system?  I’d say we are.  I’d say our environment is capitalizing.  I’d say our long-term existence is depending on it.  Do you agree?

If we keep pumping our earth and environment with toxic trash, harmful gasses and chemical pollutants, without regard to future generations, how do we expect that there WON’T be negative effects.  I have kids and I refuse to let them bear the burden of my selfishness and laziness.  Sorry if that upsets anyone, but for most of us, recycling is very doable.

Being green is not an issue of “Saving the Earth”.  No matter what kind of havoc we thrust upon our environment, the earth WILL survive, but will we?  We’re moving toward kicking ourselves out of the only home we have and I’m not about to sit around, irresponsibly, and debate that answer to that question.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”   — Native American Proverb

(An edited version of this post was published on BlogHer)