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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Going green makes me blue!

Published: November 7, 2008
Section: Opinions

ILLUSTRATION BY Alex Doucette/The Hoot

ILLUSTRATION BY Alex Doucette/The Hoot

I remember when I was a left wing environmentalist. For an entire year I professed to be a member of the Green party and served on my town’s environmental commission. I did everything that I possibly could to reduce my personal waste, and even read Ralph Nader’s books. Now, I have recanted the foolishness of my old ways. I still question the probability that global warming exists, and no longer follow many of my previously “green” practices.

I could spend volumes discussing why I made this change, and why I no longer abide by environmentalists principles, but I’d like to focus this piece rather on my sentiments concerning recycling. Recycling has become one of the trendiest movements on our campus and in fact around the world. People are guilted into abiding by its complicated procedures, and urged to purchase the crappy goods comprised from recycled materials. Worst of all many follow these guidelines blindly without even questioning the reasoning behind it. I’d like to take a crack at recycling and expose some of the imbecilic characteristics of this flawed system.

I remember when a proposal to put a recycling bin in every dorm room came in front of the Finance Board while I was still a member of that body. I don’t think there was ever an issue in my two terms as a member of that group that ever welled up more passion and fury than that one allocation. I had hated the fact that this proposal would require me to keep a recycling bin in my room, as it would be added to the RCR and made a chargeable offense if it was not there at the end of the year. I despised having to de facto participate in this atrocious process and told my colleagues that I would rather use the bin as a chamber pot than for its intended purpose. Unfortunately, after the longest debate we had all year (about 10 minutes) in a 4-2 decision, the allocation passed. I left the room that night with fury running through my veins, once again seeing the propaganda of the recycling movement.

Recycling, first of all, is an unproven method for helping the environment for two main reasons. One is that it requires large amounts of energy to transport these products to recycling facilities. Each plant is only able to process a few grades of plastic, for instance, and these places could be located far away.

In addition, recycling is not effective because most of the things that are eventually transported are not recycled, but are rather thrown out. I once heard that 60 percent of things thrown into recycling bins are trashed, making the process extremely ineffective indeed. Furthermore, the products made from these recycled goods often exhibit less quality than the original product. All in all, the process stands to promote one positive benefit; making recyclers feel good about their supposed contribution toward defending the environment.

And some people are supercilious indeed. When I go to Usdan and use paper containers someone once said to me “using a lot of paper eh?” Stay out of my business! If Usdan gave me the same amount of food with regular plates, or if I had the time to stay, I would use other means to eat my meal.

Judging people for their habits is not only stupid, but is wrong. People have no right to audibly comment about my usage just as I had no right to say to that person “using a lot of gel, eh?” Furthermore, recycling promotes a false sense of security about environmental action. Deluded recyclers think that they are on the front lines of the environmental battlefield by recycling when they are in fact wrong and commit a number of other derogating activities. These same people use the elevator in the Shapiro Campus Center, smoke cigarettes (among other things!), and don’t live a truly green life.

In all honesty, I’m probably the greenest of anyone. I never use elevators, wear my clothes more than once, and wake up early. Seriously, if you “green fanatics” cared that much about the environment, maybe you should stop partying and staying up late.

Do you have anay idea how wasteful you are? Damn them all for judging me, I bet my frugal non-lazy lifestyle is helping the environment far more than their hypocrisy.

With this said, many may believe me to be against President Reinharz’s new policy banning bottled water on campus. Sorry to disappoint, but I think that this idea is one of the best and agreeable measures that I have ever heard!

Drinking bottled water is not only wasteful, but it is stupid. Free water is easily available all around us in the form of water fountains. In addition, reusable plastic containers are trendy and effective. President Reinharz’s plan can actually work as it doesn’t put its faith in an inefficient method. It rather cuts the problem at the bud. Lessening our use of bottled water will decrease our waste and hardly change people’s lifestyles for the worst.

Recanting my earlier views, I no longer support many recycling policies. They not only curtail my liberties, but are ineffective and only foster a false sense of security. I do, however, like President Reinharz’s new policy and think it is a step in the right direction toward reducing waste and helping the environment in a meaningful way.

So I have railed against the myth that is recycling and know that people will call me un-Green for it.

So be it, I never cared much for the color, and green in this instance only seems indicative of the money wasted by following these ineffectual environmental policies. It could also represent how sick I get when I am subjected to recycling propaganda.