recycling recession

It seems like every day there is more news about falling price values, and the recycling industry is not immune to that. I read an article in the New Orleans CityBusiness back in November about their residential service cutting cardboard and glass from the list of accepted items. About two months ago, our city's recycling program had to begin charging for monthly commercial service because they just couldn't stay profitable. As the director told me, and I had read elsewhere, recycling was going for about $200 a ton just last summer and is now going for about $25 a ton.

And it's frustrating that recycling is being compromised because of the economy. I know there's always more to it than what I see, but I hate that it's almost like giving up because it's not profitable. It seems like when times are hard, it would be the easier option to go for reused/recycled things.

I could not imagine, after all I've learned, to have no choice but to go back to throwing everything away. If I think about it, probably 95% of what I dispose is recyclable. I can't physically put a piece of paper in the trash anymore, knowing it can easily go to making something else.

So the more I think about the hardships of these recycling programs, it becomes apparent that the need to conserve is becoming more important. It's great that so many people are recycling, but it's to the point where conserving is an even better option. I can think offhand how much paper is wasted by having a useless last page of a printout, usually containing two lines of an email signature, or by not printing double-sided. Or how many water bottles could simply be refilled and reused instead of getting a new one every time. I can't imagine how many water bottles I've avoided since I began using my Klean Kanteen. And I need to become more observant over how to save sheets of paper here and there.

And beside creating new conservation habits, the other solution is to actually buy items with recycled materials. What's the point of recycling if we don't actually use the recycled product? Recycled items are becoming more common, even if it's just a shampoo bottle made of recycled plastic. Plastic and paper can be made into so many new things. I even have an umbrella made from recycled plastic.

I hope the economy can get straightened out soon, for many different reasons, but also for the added bonus of having profitable recycling programs. They are important to the future of the planet and if they can't survive, we're all just taking one giant step back.

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