Monday, December 8, 2008

Reduse, Reuse, but Recycle? Not So Much

According to the New York Times, the market in recycled materials is not so good these days. Along with cars and houses, loads of cardboard and glass are sitting on vacant lots just waiting for someone to come along and snap it all up at the right price. This is...what's the word? Depressing. It's depressing not only because reusable material will go into landfills because it can't be sold. It's depressing because what seemed like some kind of progress -- the practice of recycling instead of throwing away -- is going to disappear because it's not profitable enough (or at all). It's not that the market-factor is so surprising, it's just that in this age when green is good, it would be nice to think that green could simply be Good and good enough not have to be about the other kind of green, you know, the money kind. I know this is naive and impractical. I know everyone likes to "do good and do well," because if you don't how else can you afford that gorgeous local produce or the fantastic biodegradable hand-whipped body lotion made of the subtly fantastic minced kelp and gooseberry served up in a sleek yet somehow appealing package at just $24.95 for 4 oz. I mean, you need to do well if you're going to do good and shop responsibly. Right?

I digress.

At the very end of the Times article there was a stitch of hope -- a class of second graders that gave up recess to write letters advocating for recycling no matter the profit. They just want a world that's not full of junk, they wrote. I hope, as in words sung by Whitney Houston, those children are our future and that the words we tell them -- waste goes somewhere, responsibility matters, the world will melt -- will take root and drive their actions for the long term. Because right now the adults are all about the short term (sub-prime derivative instruments anyone?) and we've all forgotten the inherent value of long-term planning....I mean recycling.

Now, I've got to run to Whole Foods. But first I gotta find my reusable shopping bags.....

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