“I recycle because I feel like I’m being a good person and contributing to society,” says Amanda Enclave of suburban Los Angeles, California. About 30% of people in America recycle regularly and there are questions to ask about it. Why recycle? What are we gaining by recycling? Does recycling actually help the environment? Hopefully this paper will show recycling for what it is: useless. John Tierney writes in the New York Times, …recycling programs aren’t good for posterity. They offer mainly short-term benefits to a few groups- politicians, public relations consultants, environmental organizations, waste-handling corporations-while diverting money from genuine social and environmental problems. Recycling may be the most wasteful activity in modern America: a waste of time and money, a waste of human and natural resources. To start it off; not all recycling is bad. Recycling aluminum cans is actually beneficial. However, this paper concentrates on the worst type of recycling: paper recycling. Recycling paper is an activity that waste money, human and natural resources, and time.
The recycling movement that has swept this nation started with the Mobro 4000 barge. It was filled with trash and needed to be dumped somewhere. There was no place for it to go so it sailed up and down the Atlantic coast. For doing so it received a lot of media-attention and people formed the idea; America was running out of landfill space to dump trash. In response to this, government worker Jay Winston Porter published “An Agenda for Action” which was read nationally. It said such things as “…recycling is vital”, “We’re running out of places to dispose our trash”, and “1/3 of the nations landfills will be full within the next few years.” Since “An Agenda for Action” was written the percentage of trash recycled jumped from 10% to 30%. Thanks to Mr. Jay Winston Porter, Americans started to waste their time and money.
Landfill space is a huge point that is made by people who favor recycling. They seem to think that if we don’t recycle we will be buried under mountains of trash. Just like Mr. Porter said, “We’re running out of places to dispose our trash.” In actuality America has plenty of room. Americans throw away 220 million tons of trash a year. It sounds like a lot but America has space to put all that trash. Newspaper from a household in a year weighs about 520 pounds and only occupies 40 cubic feet in a landfill. If there was a 35-mile by 35-mile landfill that was 200 feet high, it could hold the trash of America for the next 1,000 years. That would be roughly .0003% of the United State’s total area. Landfill capacity has been increasing over the past years in most parts of the America and has only shrunk in a few areas such as New Jersey.
Landfills also have to meet strict government regulations and standards. Even though there are strict standards, people who are in favor of recycling say that the decomposing materials are hazardous to people and that methane gasses can build up and explode. At the United State’s biggest landfill, Puente Hills Landfill, they harvest the methane gas for the decomposing organic materials. The gas is then used to provide electricity for 60,000 homes for the next 30 years. As for the smell, in some areas trash is buried and seeds are planted. The resulting area is turned into parks, golf courses, or other areas of recreation. According to the New York Department of Sanitation, 40% of their recycled items go to the landfill. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that there will be 5.7 cancer-related deaths due to landfills in the next 300 years. Also there has been advancements in packaging which helps lower the amount of food that is thrown in the trash. Packaging helps reduces the chances of food poisoning and other food related health problems along with keeping landfill size at a minimum. It wastes the consumers time sorting the materials and wastes money that...