• Cait

Why I Hate Recycling

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

I hate the idea of recycling. Recycling is the participation medal of environmental activism. And it’s obfuscating more effective behavior to change the decline of our planet. 

During a recent environmental conversation, a friend of mine opined how much he cared about the environment. When I asked what he did to show he cared about the environment, he quipped, “I recycle.” 

It is my experience that most people are content to toss a few household items into a green bin and consider their environmental duty fulfilled. Unfortunately, since only 9% of recyclable items actually fulfill their destiny, recycling should be a last resort.

I pointed out to my friend (gently, I hope) that sporadic recycling might not merit a pat on the back. It may have been effective years ago, but now we need to aspire to bigger gestures. It’s a delicate balance to champion one’s good intentions, but it may also be time to start talking about better ways to reduce our environmental impact.  

According to the Pew Research Center, “three quarters of Americans are concerned about the environment,” but 63% of people only make an effort to help the environment in their daily lives “some of the time.”

The good news is that most people care enough to recycle. But we can’t let ourselves off the hook too easily. All the half-hearted recycling in the world doesn’t negate the fact that most people still get plastic bags at the grocery and keep disposable water bottles at their desks. We know there is a problem, but we only take action as long as it isn’t too inconvenient