I would like to think that we have come a long way from the days when recycling was one of those weird alternative things that commie leftist drugged out hippies did while the rest of us tossed our unwanted goodies into landfill, like “normal” people. Despite the recycling bin that goes out every bin day, large receptacles in the workplace for paper and cardboard, and the plastic bag recycle bin at the local supermarket I am not so sure we have come as far as we might think.
Take beds. After more than ten years on the one bed we finally decided it was about time to buy a new one before my back ended up sagging more than the mattress. The dilemma was what to do with the old one. Being keen recyclers we decided that it was far too good to toss into landfill and we should be good citizens and recycle it. Not only do the handful of mattress recycle places charge to collect old beds but they don’t travel outside the metropolitan area to pick them up. Fine. We’ll drop it off. Unfortunately one place is over an hour’s drive away and the other place lists no address but a mobile phone number that goes through to message bank. How about someone like the Salvation Army then? Thank God for the Salvos, unless you’re gay of course. So we drove the bed around to the Salvos. They took one look at it, noticed a few cat scratchings on the base and decided that the homeless and destitute couldn’t possibly put up with that and told us to take it away. Obviously sleeping on the concrete or on a piece of cardboard is far preferable to lying on a used bed. I am now going to list it on ebay and we’ll see what happens.
Unfortunately I had a similar experience with my old computer. So called computer recyclers either charged for the privilege or were located so far away that it was hardly worth driving all that way to drop it off. After much searching I finally found someone local who was willing to take it but, had I been a “normal” person, I suspect I would have found it all too hard and have tossed it in the garbage along with the other 100,000 tonnes of electronic rubbish Australians dispose of each year.
While I applaud the mobile phone recycling boxes that have popped up everywhere and a growing awareness about recycling ink cartridges (highlighted in this excellent blog: http://seathechange.wordpress.com/tag/ink-cartridge/) most people will not recycle unless it is made as easy as possible for them. For me this means that some of the exorbitant rates I pay the shire each year should go towards a depot or facility where I can drop off that bed or computer or television. When they reach critical mass the shire can then either deliver it to the specialist recycler or have them come and pick it up. For recycling to work and it must work if we are to move forwards, we have to make it at least as cheap and easy as throwing stuff in the bin or landfill. And those electricity companies and airlines that want us to pay extra to give us “green” power or offset our flight are just trying to making an extra buck by pricking our environmental consciences. If they were really serious about sustainability and their effects on the environment they would make the “green” option cheaper, not more expensive.
I only hope the contents of my recycle bin aren’t just tipped into the landfill along with my rubbish. But my wife tells me I need to be less cynical.
Dr. F. Bunny