In elementary school, I never questioned recycling: It prevents trash from burying the U.S.; it saves trees; and it protects the environment. My childhood view was that people who didn't recycle were the worst criminals after murderers. In the shadow of Earth Day, I felt it was appropriate to share my education about the myths of recycling.
The classic claim about garbage burying the U.S. is false. The U.S. has more landfill space than ever before. A Gonzaga University study concluded that 1,000 years worth of trash could fit in a landfill 44 square miles in size and 100 feet deep.
It is believed recycling paper saves trees, but in reality it does the opposite. Trees are planted to meet the demand for paper. If demand for paper falls, there will be fewer trees planted. Similarly, if people stopped eating pork, there would not be a surplus of pigs because pig owners would stop providing them.
Finally, recycling does not always protect the environment. With curbside recycling, additional trucks must be produced that utilize gasoline and emit pollution. Additionally, recycling is a manufacturing process. Recycled paper must be bleached, which creates more toxins than producing new paper.
Studies estimate that government-provided curbside recycling programs are 55 percent more expensive than disposing trash. In many cases, the costs of recycling exceed the value of the recycled product. But not all recycling is a waste. Private recycling, such as saving grocery bags for reuse, does save resources and at a much lower cost to the taxpayer.
Hilton Head Island