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Why recycling sucks

That's right, I said it. I'm not talking about how Hollywood keeps recycling the same movies. Seriously, film studios and producers, I've already seen ""The Karate Kid"" and ""Clash of the Titans,"" and you know what, they were all freaking awesome, so just stop.


No, what I'm talking about is the recycling of materials like glass, plastic and paper. It's not that I think people shouldn't do it — because I do — but that they shouldn't think of it as very helpful.

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First, recycling isn't always the best way to describe the process. Glass and metal can basically be recycled indefinitely, but plastics are usually upcycled or downcycled into new products that are not recyclable, while paper products can only be recycled some of the time.


Also, don't forget that it still takes energy to recycle that material — not to mention the extra trucks pouring exhaust fumes into the air to gather those recycled materials.


The biggest problem with recycling, however, is that it takes the focus away from the more important R's that we all learned about: Reduce and Reuse. 


If you drink 20 bottles of water in a week and recycle them all, that's good, but if you buy a single glass water bottle and reuse it, filling it with filtered water each time, that is far better. Similarly, if you and your friends go through five 30-packs a week, maybe you should attend an AA meeting — or just get a keg, which holds about 160 beers. Now you're reducing and reusing.


Good work.


What Arizona needs is what some states have already implemented: container deposit requirements.


Ever notice the lables on those alcohol — ahem — juice bottles that say you can get five to 10 cents back if you recycle them in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon or Vermont?


Do you think of those as dirty states? Probably not, and the reason is because of that container deposit.


The system works for a number of reasons. First, people are less likely to be wasteful and might opt to buy a two-liter bottle of soda rather than a case, for example. Secondly, people would be more likely to recycle, and finally, the amount of litter would be reduced. Do you know anyone who would throw nickels out the car window?


Even if you threw a bottle out the window, it'd be more like giving to charity than littering. Homeless people looking to earn those nickels and dimes would rather pick up cans or bottles on the street than root through the garbage to get them. You could even try to deduct the total earnings from what you throw away on your taxes.


On top of it, those people we all love to hate who carelessly throw away plastic containers, soda cans or bottles would be countered by the people who would collect them from the garbage for a little extra money. 


Not only would this help the environment, it would help poor people too. Where do I sign, you ask?  Well, nowhere at the moment, because ""Big Soda"" doesn't want these laws in place, arguing that it hurts their business, which sells us extra pounds and tooth decay at a pretty good profit.


Don't stop recycling, but start reducing and reusing more. That, and maybe start thinking about how we can turn that bottle into five cents someday.




— Chris Ward is a senior majoring in English. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Updated December 5, 2021