NOTE: This post was protected originally. Then I realized, I have nothing to hide. This is the text verbatim of the email conversation as it was. If the person somehow finds it, well, so be it. At least she might realize how idiotic some of her ramblings were (doubtful, but one can only hope). In essence, she basically says that without footnotes and linked references, she won’t even consider my viewpoint and then when that doesn’t work, she says, “who cares what I think!” Ahhh, gotta love people who like to argue without any real understanding of the topic at hand.
The following is an email conversation I had with my gf’s sister-in-law. She is a vassar graduate, which is another way of saying her education was peppered with a great deal of idiocy in the form of estrogen infusions. She was bad before she had children, but once she squeezed a living organism out of her vagina, she suddenly believed she was a “creator of life!” What’s worse is that she does that whole parental, “Tsk tsk tsk!” when she hears or sees something that she doesn’t agree with. She is just one example of a parent that makes me wish people were like salmon.
I understand that a few weeks ago you made a rather pointed effort to condemn me for my stance against recycling. I believe that you said that it was “socially irresponsible” NOT to recycle. I am pretty sure that we live on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to rationale. I did not go to a liberal college, so my ideas and thought processes tend to rely on facts and data and not on emotion. As such, I learned a great many things about the world, how it works, and how a civilization might best utilize its resources. We’re talking science, not sound bites here. I would argue that I am among the most socially responsible people you could ever meet, and I’ll attempt to at least enlighten you as to why recycling doesn’t make sense and why I am doing more for the environment than someone who buys into the myth of recycling completely and unquestioningly.
I have written a few times on my blog about why I refuse to recycle, but I will recycle (haha) my reasons for you here. The main reason I don’t recycle has to do with the value proposition… essentially it boils down to this: Recycling does not make economic or ecologic sense. Recently a number of economists and policy analysts have questioned whether the benefits of recycling outweigh the ease of disposing of waste materials in landfills. They don’t, but even their facts and figures don’t really mean anything to me. My stance on the process relies on the fact that collection costs make recycling a bad bargain for many communities because the costs associated with collecting, sorting, and shipping recyclable materials from the consumer to a recycling facility often exceed the prices that the recyclables bring on the open market. The money that is being spent on recycling programs throughout the US could be used to actually help people through social programs such as food subsidies, housing subsidies, day care, etc… Now, from a strictly ecological standpoint, collecting, sorting, and shipping the materials requires that we send out trucks to pick up recyclables, which in turn increases toxic diesel emissions, offsetting any environmental gains that you may have accrued.
Taking that into consideration, you then realize that when you recycle, you are wasting energy at both ends of the life cycle. But let’s say that your argument isn’t hinged on economics or social responsibility… let’s say, instead, that you believe that landfills are bad for the environment or that we are running out of viable landfill space. Unfortunately, data doesn’t support that argument. In fact, anyone who recycles because they believe that we are running out of landfill space is basing their adherence to recycling on a lie…
Noted professor A. Clark Wiseman of Spokane’s Gonzaga University, calculated that, at the current rate of solid waste generation, the United State’s entire solid waste for the next 1,000 years could be buried in a single landfill 100 yards high and 35 miles square. Do I want to see a landfill of such proportions? Heck no, but the bottom line is that we are not in any danger of running out of space anytime soon. And once a landfill has been filled to capacity, they are routinely converted into valuable property that is then utilized for housing, recreation, and business (talk about value proposition). Again, my aversion to recycling is based on the idea that we can do more for people directly through responsible use of the funds that are currently being wasted on recycling. It is socially irresponsible to waste money on something that doesn’t immediately and directly improve the quality of life of the society.
But since you brought up the idea of social responsibility, I should also touch upon that particular idea. Just so we are on the same page, social responsibility is the belief that consumers must act with concern and sensitivity, aware of the impact of their actions on others, particularly the disadvantaged. Now, I am not sure what you meant, but I will take your statement at face value. If we were to look at recycling from the perspective of a disadvantaged person, do you really think that saving a tree here, or saving a square yard of open space means as much to him/her as giving them some food, housing, or education to live a better life? Social responsibility means thinking of the group and putting aside your altruistic goals for the betterment of the many. When viewed through those eyes, I would argue that recycling goes against the very idea of social responsibility. I won’t go as far as saying it is socially irresponsible, but I will say that recycling doesn’t help the disadvantaged in much the same way as social programs and funding do.
Now, I want to preface the following with this: I love children… all of them, no matter where they are from, who their parents are, rich or poor, healthy or sick. You are a parent and you have your own reasons for choosing to have children, but if you want to get down to brass tacks… the most socially irresponsible thing you can do as an adult is to have a child. Having a child (or two or three) is about the most selfish thing you can do. You generate more waste, require more food, take up more space, and generally have a more detrimental impact on the environment than a single person. You compound the effect you have on the consumer AND waste stream…Clearly any rational and intelligent human being can see this simple truth… right? A child must rely on the parents to care, feed, house, and generally maintain them and in that process, their is a great deal of inherent waste.
Having a kid is essentially, bad for the environment. If you want to proselytize about recycling and saving the environment, it is much harder for me as a single person to take you seriously if you have children. In my opinion, (and again I love kids and don’t blame them for existing) the most socially responsible thing you can do is not breed… for those who feel compelled to have children, why not adopt a child (from the inner city preferably, not from Zimbabwe like madonna who seemingly chose her orphan based on how much more photogenic it was than the other urchins in that particular mud hut). When looked at it rationally, adoption is the truest, most honest form of recycling a human can possibly undertake. Think about it… why make a new child, when there are so many discarded, at risk kids available to you right now?
I know that some people see my world view as “angry,” or more commonly, “insensitive.” To be honest, I don’t really mind. People will believe what makes sense to them despite scientific evidence to the contrary. How many people believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories simply because it gives them plausible deniability if/when they make a mistake of judgement. I am not one of those people. I can back up my beliefs with science and rationale… if you care to continue this conversation, I’m all ears.
that was enlightening as to “ed-on-things”. and xx i apologize for making you feel condemned for following ed’s lead and abandoning the effort to recycle. it certainly wasn’t a pointed effort on my part to make you feel bad. i was just having a strong opinion. and i still do. i can’t say what’s been written below has been comprehensive or well referenced enough to convince me against recycling. however, i’d like to read a good article on the subject. please write one or point me to some already out there. something professional and well researched enough to get published. if you’re actually right about this ed and recycling is bogus, people should know. i’m completely sincere about that.
as far as your idea that not aborting bey when i found out i was pregnant was socially irresponsible… i’m not touching that with a ten foot pole. all i can say is that i hope other people’s children (healthy children with strong ancestors and good dna) are there for you to take care of you when you are old. i hope they are there for you to make advances social, environmental and technological, when it is beyond you. i hope they are compassionate and capable enough to cleanup the messes their predecessors have left for them because of short-sightedness. and because we all make mistakes.
Ughh… First, let me say that my note said nothing about abortion. Not one word. Where you got that from my original text I am unsure… I hope it wasn’t an attempt to try to deflect attention away from my point… Bey is a lovely child and my position on social responsiblity nonwithstanding, my words never brought her into the discussion. So we are on the same page, I am COMPLETELY opposed to abortion… I believe (personally) that it is a morally reprehensible act (when abortion is used as an alternative to contraception), but wouldn’t condemn someone who chose that path (especially a woman… i am pro-choice simply because I believe a woman should have the right to choose what is right for her body… so, a bit of a conundrum) What I wrote was in reference to “social responsibility,” more specifically, CHOOSING NOT to have children as opposed to choosing to have them and feigning a green ideology… nothing about aborting them, killing them off, or proposing drive-by norplant shootings… nothing… if you are going to argue the relative merits of my position (or lack thereof), please at least give me the common courtesy of actually reading and digesting what i write.
Secondly, if I really believed that I could convince you about recycling, perhaps I would make the effort to cross-reference, annotate, and further cite my sources… but a quick google about recycling would do a much better job… besides, if I am correct in that you are religious about your recycling beliefs, nothing I reference will strike you as a reliable source… most people who believe as you believe tend to think anyone who disagrees has an agenda… my only agenda is to be allowed to make decisions for myself rather than be condemned because I don’t live a PC lifestyle.
Thirdly, I honestly don’t think relying on children (future or current) to take care of me when I am old and incapacitated has much to do with recycling… unless you mean in the SOYLENT GREEN way… Future generations will have enough on their plates without having to worry about me… I am, and always have been, a proponent on self-reliance. Hoping that future generations take care of previous generations is a cop out… it removes personal responsibility from the individual and burdens society with extra baggage… you may think i lack compassion, but nothing could be further from the truth… I don’t advocate tossing the elderly out into the wilderness, but I definitely do not believe people should EXPECT someone else to take care of them if they are unable… the world turns XX… what we imagine today being the blights of the future are probably further from reality than we can possibly guess… I could again point out what real scientists have to say about the future in reference to environment (especially that snow job Al Gore produced… that was a laughable attempt at pushing the panic button!), but again… would you really believe anything that goes counter to your environmental views and understanding?
And finally… nothing makes me laugh at someone’s argument as much as quotation marks… was “ed-on-things” really necessary? C’mon.. thats ridiculously condescending!
I don’t mind that you believe in recycling… more power to you… but I wouldn’t condemn you for believing it and all i ask is that you don’t automatically discount my beliefs (and those with similar beliefs) just because you disagree with them.. is that really compassionate? I guess I don’t really understand your vocabulary because it clearly differs from what I was taught some of these words mean… of course, English is my second language so maybe the fault is my own… 🙂 (i put the smiley in there to just underline the fact that I am not angry, malicious, malcontented, evil, or sponsored by any corporations…)
And I hope you and yours have a safe and wonderful holiday in florida…
look ed, i’m not religious about recycling. i do think it is sad and am disappointed when people don’t recycle in the same way that i am when people litter or drive hummers. i don’t curse you or want to burn down your house or hate you. come on. i think you have a penchant for over-stating things.
still i am not feigning a green ideology. neither am i some picture of perfect natural living. i live in new york city for god’s sake. i’m not feigning anything. i do believe recycling is important even if only as a symbolic act. it may not be totally effective, but it is a beginning. as flawed as our very young recycling system is… it is a beginning. yes it needs to improve. definitely! again i urge you to do the work and convince others just how and why that system needs to change and evolve. you’re a writer. write something really good about it. you could.
i am sorry you don’t feel that making the effort to back up your claims with references would be worth your while. i did give you the courtesy of reading your email. but if you want to claim such total rationality you really should do the work around this it takes and get something published. writing a half-assed argument against recycling to me and only me is totally irrational. what the hell do you care what i and only i think? i don’t condemn you or xx. that’s dramatic nonsense. you could care what a lot of people think. make a difference. or sit on your high horse and consider us all suckers and write a dark comedy about it. that could be good too. who am i to judge?
regarding my comment about not aborting bey: you wrote very clearly that anyone who chose to have children was socially irresponsible. you’re right that you said nothing about abortion, but you also did not address unplanned pregnancy which was my case. i made an assumption that any pregnancy brought to term, planned or unplanned is wrong to you. that having children at all is wrong to you. seriously though who is going to drive you around when you are old? push your wheel chair? help you when you’re sick? give you medicine? other people’s children. they will do it, even if you are a total crank and claim not to want their damn help. deeply you will be grateful to those of us who wiped their asses and raised them right (it’s hard!) so that they don’t just say… f’you old man, just rot!
anyway, i can’t really say any clearer that i am open to your making a compelling argument against recycling and getting it out there. you simply have not done that. recycling needs to be improved, that is clear, obvious, in general and also from your arguments. but totally abandoning the effort does not seem to me, at this time, to be a helpful answer. improving our recycling system is. now how can we do that? this is a useful question i’d like to see answered and put toward the people who can really do something about this. city governments, waste management officials and the papers, journals, magazines and periodicals they read, for example.
i’m not angry with you or xx for not recycling or for these emails. and for goodness sake if it’s not clear by this point, i do not condemn you. i am, however, amazed that this topic has gone this far and yet seemingly nowhere. i don’t really feel like i have time for this, nor do i seek to have the influence to effect large scale social change on this matter. i never tried to convince xx to recycle and i won’t try to convince you either. you’re intelligent enough to make your own decisions. i can respect that even if i disagree. if i’m disappointed in your decisions what do you care?
listen, i think you must have too much time on your hands. enjoy it! i’m jealous. not zealous! ha that rhymes. feel free to laugh at all my mails. they are not arguments and i have nothing to convince you of or prove to you.
It was at that point that i gave up… some people are just complete blithering idiots and arguing with them is like winning the special olympics… yeah, you won, but you’re still retarded.