Recycling hurts planet, job prospects


Many of you already know I’m not a B.C. native. I hail from Ontario, often referred to as the Best Province, the Centre of Canada, the Canadian Heartland or my favourite, The O-Dot. I was more than surprised when, upon arriving in the second most beautiful place on earth, I found a land of so much excess combined with such significant morality. I’m talking about B.C.’s fixation on recycling. It befuddles me.

Back in the O-Dot, we recycled, too — when we weren’t too busy managing the nation’s industrial and financial sectors. So when I finish a bottle of sweet Niagara wine or a delicious can of Ontarian craft-brewed brewski, I really can’t be blamed for dumping it in my apartment’s special garbage can: the yard that’s 15 storeys below me. That’s right: I throw it off my balcony. It’s nature’s problem now.

And yes, I hear what you’re saying, and no, I don’t really care about the consequences, because I’m not convinced that there are any. For decades, we’ve been sold a false bill of sale that extols the virtues of recycling while telling tales of woe for all those who dare buck the trend. And yet, I remain skeptical. Did you know that many landfills are actually shrinking? And this isn’t just in Third-World countries where increasingly scarce resources have fueled a surge of scavenging scamps. No, this is happening in America, too. The steel industry reclaims millions of tons of scrap metal per year. Guess where a lot of it comes from? Estimates from 2008 put the amount of steel in American landfills at over 400 million metric tons.

I feel good when I put my Coke Zero can in the garbage. Not only am I maintaining my svelte figure without sacrificing that great Coke taste, but I’m also helping to plant the seeds for what in time could be a bumper crop of crumpled aluminum. And, of course, all that garbage has to be fished out of landfills somehow, and you know what that means: jobs. That makes me both an environmental crusader and a job creator. I’m like a cold-weather Mitt Romney.

I’m not saying we should get rid of recycling programs entirely. They’re probably useful tools for collecting certain things. I feel more comfortable knowing that the paper I chew and spit at classmates has been chewed and spat by generations of students before me. But we need to stop treating recycling as some kind of glorious emancipation from waste. It isn’t. And even more importantly, people need to stop yelling at me for putting my 7Up bottles in the garbage can. That’s really the main point here.