Monday, February 12, 2018

Wishful recycling is a real problem

... and apparently that's exactly what San Francisco's much vaunted 80 percent landfill waste diversion rate actually encourages. This Grist video explains why much of our "recycling" is problematic.
I did not know this. Since encountering it, I've been trying to be a more discriminating recycler. Our current practice of just throwing anything that might, maybe, be recyclable in the blue bin is a self-indulgence that won't fly as poor countries become able to be more choosy about what effluvia they'll accept from the rich.

On the other hand, what's good about easy civic recycling is that it identifies our waste as a social reality, a byproduct of the entire shape of our collective lives. The detritus of our lives can ultimately only be dealt with collectively. Environmental degradation and climate change are byproducts of how we organize our capitalist society; how we live together (uncomfortably) is choking the planetary ecosystem. Individual actions are good reminders that there is a problem, but we aren't going to solve our ills by some of us carrying refillable water bottles.

This, of course, is why Republicans instinctively hate the steps necessary to reduce carbon pollution. There aren't any individual solutions; none of us in rich countries are innocent and the planet doesn't care about our injured feelings of virtue. Solutions must be society-wide and that will constrict some choices for some people, including all of us here in the rich USofA.

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