Blogs & Comment

Earth Day hangover

This is a bit outside of my usual focus, but this image ( one of a series of stunning photoscompiled by the Boston Globe‘s Alan Taylor in honour of Earth Day) is, for me, a striking reminder of the environmental costs of that supposedly green act of recycling. After the collectors empty your blue box at the curb, where does that recycling go? If you’re an Ontario resident, some stuff, according to this Toronto Star story, goes to China. (How’s that for a flat world?)
When grappling with environmental issues, like with most complex problems, people are apt to fixate on solving isolated aspects with complex solutions, and not see the forest for the trees. Recycling, in theory, is great; if it’s not done well, though, it creates new problems. Sure, innovation is messy. But how messy is it to just focus on those other two neglected cousins of recycling, “Reduce” and “Reuse”? Recycling is a complex, costly solution and ought to be the last of those “Three Rs” we consider doing in our daily lives, but it’s often the first.