malcott | Pittsburgh City Paper

malcott 
Member since Jun 25, 2008


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Re: “Downward Cycle

Although I entirely agree that recycling bottles and cans isn't going to singlehandedly save the planet, I feel that it is completely unfounded to argue that it is actually worse for the environment than land filling it. What this article fails to mention is the fact that natural resources are finite - meaning that metals, petroleum (needed to make plastics) and even hardwood forests will someday cease to exist at the present rate of consumption. So why wait until all of our resources are gone to go digging through landfills when all of it could be taken out before being buried under hundreds of feet of trash? Also, most landfills are capped; meaning that methane - a very harmful greenhouse gas - and carbon dioxide are trapped inside and used for electricity generation. By opening up those caps to "mine" for metals that were improperly disposed of millions of pounds of methane and carbon dioxide will be release into the atmosphere. It can also be assumed that the energy expended digging through a landfill with a density of 1400 lbs per cubic yard will far exceed that of operating a recycling truck.
Recycling is only one component of environmental stewardship but at this point every piece counts. A switch to local economies (see Deep Economy by Bill McKibben), smaller cars, and smaller homes with better insulation we could further reduce our impacts. But until people are ready to make major changes to their lifestyles recycling is a great place to start.
-Mike Alcott

Posted by malcott on 06/25/2008 at 10:21 AM

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