[GRRN] Response to Betsy Hart Article

Gary Liss (gary@garyliss.com)
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 14:49:42

>From: liz_citrino_at_envh-po@co.humboldt.ca.us
>To: <mailtohart@aol.com>
> Please accept this view from another perspective.
Unlike Ms. Hartís neighborhood, the homeowners where I live save their
sorted cans, glass and newspaper in containers on the porch, compost their
food and other organic wastes, and haul three cans of recyclables for every
one can of trash to a local disposal site once every few months.

The beverage containers they recycle become new products instead of
roadside litter, helping to create new jobs which are badly needed in a
community where most of the trees have been cut and most of the fish have
been caught. The money they receive in return for their efforts pays for
the cost of landfilling what canít be recycled - mostly the ever-more
complex products and materials made to be thrown away after a single use,
made from undervalued virgin materials which continue to be subsidized by a
system which equates value with profit, and profit with consumption.

The bill of goods that Ms. Hart is selling is the concept that space and
resources are infinite, that it is OK to continue consuming and wasting
without regard for the human and environmental consequences.

Few people would argue that manufacturing of any kind, as well as the
transportation of resources and products both new and recycled, has the
potential to creat pollution, unless we require our ever improving
technology to help us address these challenges, rather than producing
ever-increasing quantities of ever-cheaper disposable products. But the
environmental impacts of mining the urban waste stream are a long way from
the wholesale effects of the mining of virgin resources in terms of the
energy required and the amount of waste created. The goal of reducing and
preventing waste is likely to offer solutions with greater environmental
and economic benefit than either recycling or landfilling.

Where I live, the cost of garbage still exceeds the cost of recycling by
many millions of dollars per year, despite the fact that my jurisdiction
has already exceeded a 70% reduction rate under Californiaís ambitious
recycling law.

This "religion" of recycling challenges the illusion that it is acceptable
to live without regard for our responsibility to act as stewards of the
environment, and the weekly offering of recyclables at the curb is an
outward symbol of a deeper attempt to find balance between the abundance of
our lives and the desire to give something back to the world which gives us
so much.

Perhaps the inner voice of our "moral imperative" is simply the memory of
our mothers and grandmothers saying, "waste not, want not."

Liz Citrino, President
California Resource Recovery Association (CRRA)

Gary Liss
Fax: 916-652-0485