Yesterday’s “How Did You Celebrate Earth Day?” post generated an unexpected response from Nishant Magar of the American Chemical Society. Apparently our friends at ACS spent Earth Day celebrating the poetic and artisitc talents of school children. That’s right – this year chemists celebrated Earth Day with a “Kindergarten-12th Grade Illustrated Haiku Contest” with the theme “Recycling – Chemistry Can!”
I get what they’re trying to do, but obviously this contest is dumbing down the concept of recycling, even by grade school standards. When there is a viable secondary market for waste products, whether they be industrial or residential, recycling makes perfect sense. If not, then it simply becomes an elaborate waste of time. If recycling really saves resources, and therefore money, we all should get paid to do it. Between refiners and manufacturers, that is often the case – wastes from one process become the feedstock for another. On a broad-based residential level, however, this is generally not the case.
Our very own Angela Logomasini laid out the problem quite well in her Wall Street Journal op-ed from a few years back. Let us also not forget John Tierney’s excellent New Yourk Times Magazine cover story from 1996, “Recycling is Garbage.” And last but not least, our favorite Las Vegas entertainers took on recycling myths on their aggresively titled series on Showtime.