I’m a big fan of recycling. I try to recycle whatever I can — paper, plastics, glass, aluminum — whenever I can. I was under the impression that recycling produces less waste than dumping in landfills and is better for the environment in general. Because of this, I was willing to pay the extra costs (indirectly through taxes) to support municipal recycling programs. Penn and Teller beg to differ:
If you don’t want to watch the entire thing, here’s the take home message: recycling paper and plastic is wasteful and costs a lot more than landfilling. Penn and Teller linger a lot on the wasted money — which I don’t find to be convincing on its own — but they also point out how energy intensive recycling is. They point out that aluminum cans are the only items that make economic sense to recycle.
What they fail to mention (and what are much more important) are the other two R’s: reducing and reusing. Recycling leads to a fair amount of waste production. To truly make a contribution towards environmental protection we must decrease the amount of packaging we purchase and reuse whatever we can. All those plastic bottles of water you buy? Why not drink tap water? You can even filter it if you don’t like the idea of drinking it straight from the tap, even though municipal tap water must meet higher standards of purity than bottled water.
(Via the Skepchicks.)