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recycling comes last

I usually try to be funny with my posts but this one is serious business. A metafilter thread (why do I persist in reading that site?) brought to my attention once again that recycling is too often just a public-relations hoax, something that does no more than make us feel better about all the plastic water bottles we're using and tossing. "They'll be recycled! Hooray! Where's the bin?" That is, when we manage to recycle them at all, which the kids at school could sure use some practice on.

Even if the bottles do make it into the bin, and then the bin makes it to an actual recycling center—and Washington isn't the only place with that problem, I've worked at schools where the custodians toss everything in the dumpster because they "don't get paid" to do anything else—it still takes energy to turn old stuff into new stuff. It's not magic.

Which is why, of course, that recycling is the last of the three environmental "R"s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. So why do we hear so much about it? Because it's super easy, comparably! First, use fewer bottles. Then, put new water back into the bottles (for plant-watering only, if you worry about the plastic). Recycling is the last option: practically a failure, really. But of course, you all know all that. I just had to get it off my chest. Back to talking about the weather and cute babies and puppies tomorrow!



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