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Thread: Should we recycle?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2009

    Default Should we recycle?

    I confess to lurking here on occasion, and evidently Wayland has it share of experts. So sitting in my hydro-carbon burning machine yesterday with 10 other cars waiting five minutes to enter a crowded transfer station, it occurred to me to put this puzzler out there.

    What precisely are the savings, environmental and financial to having scores of individuals drive from all over town to the dump each week to recycle various goods? I certainly enjoy seeing friends at the dump, the ride is pleasant enough most times, and we have a nice new bridge on Route 20 to traverse. But the costs are plenty. Foremost may be time. Time everyone in my household and yours must spend sorting disposables. Plastic, paper, batteries, plastic bags, etc. Time to travel to the dump. (30-40 minutes roundtrip for me.) Miles and gallons of petroleum employed to get there. You get the picture. All to ensure a plastic shampoo bottle is reconverted into a plastic pellet or two, to be used in a new plastic product? Having received a lecture from a kindly soul at the Sudbury transfer station last Thursday about sorting #1 & #2 from all other plastics, and struggling to find and read miniature triangles with these numbers on the bottoms of bottles...I came to the conclusion I would never again waste time or energy on Thursday runs to Sudbury. At least Wayland's "siingle stream" processing is more efficient for our household. I understand a much smaller percentage of Sudbury residents choose to use their transfer station and recycle. No wonder.

    I like to feel good about sorting and reusing of materials, but is it all worthwhile?

    I haven't a clue. What do you think?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Wayland MA


    Great question! I have no idea the answer (but can tell you when you should drive to NH to buy alcohol! [grin]).

    Several general comments:

    1. Some sorting probably makes sense at the household level. That said, back in my consulting days, I spent a fair amount of time looking at the lifecycle economics of the automobile. There is a pretty good system for shredding a car and separating the different metals, plastics, and other materials.

    2. I'm at the far south end of town, and my round trip drive is 20 minutes--maybe your GPS is broken! [grin]

    3. Someone must have looked at this question somewhere. Will be interesting to see if anyone has an answer. My bet is that the financial and environmental answer is the same (that is, when one approach makes financial sense, it probably makes environmental sense).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Thumbs up Yes to Recycling!

    Quote Originally Posted by Stu Cartwright View Post

    I like to feel good about sorting and reusing of materials, but is it all worthwhile?

    I haven't a clue. What do you think?
    A couple of reads from Popular Mechanics that are worth reviewing:
    (1) Is Recycling Worth it?
    (2) Recyling by the Numbers:

    In our house, we:
    • sort as we go (we have bins readily available in our kitchen for paper, plastics and glass), so there's little extra effort to sort
    • combine the drive with another trip (why not hit Karma Coffee for a bag of fresh roasted beans after your trip to the landfill)?

    The cost of items is simply going to have to move towards accounting for its full cost, including the cost to the environment, and as we move in that direction, recycling will make increasing sense.

    So for now, it's still worthwhile and the right thing to do, and will be more and more so in the years to come.


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