Recycle everything?

(edited)

A recent thread put this on my mind. The earth has limited resources, some, much more limited than others. For the health of the planet and to secure resources for future generations, why NOT recycle pretty much everything? My mindset is the USA, since I live here; it is unreal how much packaging we use. I recycle everything that the recycling center will take... newspapers, cardboard, plastic, aluminum, and also steel cans. I wish they took glass! It's a bit of a pain to gather all this stuff up on a daily basis but it's not that bad. And the center is inconvenient to me, as it's in another city, but when I go that way, I take what I have. We need one in this small town!

I got to thinking about WHY don't we do this? There is no federal leadership on this. Why not? Wouldn't it be smart to limit exploiting resources?

As for how, my generation doesn't care enough, en masse. Some of us do, obviously. Maybe the younger generations are much more hip to this. But if you monetize it, seems it would work. When I was a child, there was a 'bounty' on glass soda bottles. I don't know why it was only soda bottles but that's all I recall. It was 2 cents/bottle. People hard up for money would go around and collect those things and get a couple bucks here and there. If we got pennies for pretty much everything, maybe it would work.

As for steel cans and glass, I guess we have a lot of iron ore for steel but is it largely limitless? I doubt it. And we have a lot sand (silica) for glass but, surely, there are limits. But, a big factor is it would cut down on litter. Americans in many locales litter really bad! It's ugly to those of us who admire countryside views and it's not good for wildlife and aquatic life.

I wonder where in the world recycling is a way of life? I would think it is in Europe, it seems so much 'cleaner' than the USA. I hope some with knowledge/opinions on any of this will speak up.

I guess the main question is WHY is not a national priority? Are we just that lazy?

EDIT: By the way, I got to thinking about the autonomous electric vehicles on the horizon. What a great way to collect this stuff in cities and towns! A twice weekly run or whatever. No fossil fuels used. And by the way, as far as a potential government program goes, I am talking mostly about household waste.

Edited by BillKidd
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7 hours ago, BillKidd said:

I got to thinking about the autonomous electric vehicles on the horizon. What a great way to collect this stuff in cities

This is a great idea.   However, I don't see it ever being implemented simply because our politicians seem to spend more time trying to get elected than they do trying to fix our problems.  BillKidd, have you ever considered running for office?  I think we could use more people like you in there.  

But, you are right: there is no leadership on this.  The only economical reason that might suggest why we are lacking in such leadership has to do with the costs involved in recycling.  The US ships most of its recycling to China, which suggests that it is generally not economical to recycle these products in the US.  So, one alternative theory to recycling might simply be this: don't recycle, and use the economic advantage from "not recycling" to invent a more cost-efficient method of eliminating this trash.  Autonomous electric vehicles could certainly be part of that solution!

However, I think therein lies our problem.  This problem is that rather than using the economic advantages gained by "not recycling" to invent a more efficient method of eliminating the trash, we instead waste those economic advantages by spending our extra free time on entertainment.  The people in the US have become distracted.  For instance, if one looks at the number of hours the average American spends each day binge-watching Netflix or endlessly scrolling through Facebook, and compares that to the number of hours the average American spends at the local research library reviewing the latest peer-reviewed journals about chemical treatments for reusing plastics and glass, well, I think you will understand the real problem.  The real problem lies in the fact that American tend to always see problems as a task for someone else to fix.  It is always someone else's job to fix it because everyone is "too busy."  We are all "too busy" because, well, we have Facebook, the Kardashians, Monday Night Football, Fortnite, the Avengers, and fidget spinners.  When we have all of those things to distract us, well, reading the latest journal articles ends up being a bit of a bore.  So, rather than putting aside our "fun" so that we can man-up to the necessary tasks at hand, we instead find it to be much more convenient to cower like dogs behind our self-serving politicians who are only too happy to ensure their re-election by imposing overly-costly and economically impracticable legal mandates which always fail to fully address the problem in the end. 

In other words: the real problem in the US right now is not our lack of recycling mandates, but rather, it is our lack of will and ingenuity. 

So how do we instill that kind of will and ingenuity into 300 million people who have such easy access to so many entertaining distractions?????

For that, we would need something we haven't had for a long time: we need a real leader to show us the way.

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Make recycling entertaining, perhaps? But more importantly, make it as easy as can be. Also, add a stick to the carrot and impose fines for non-recyclers.

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Recycling stuff can be expensive, and a lot of stuff can't be recycled, for example: cotton clothing. And while plastics are recyclable they degrade everytime you recycle them, however you can burn them, generate power, and using the ashes to make concrete.

recycling is a energy intensive process while separation of waste is labour intensive

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