Recycling effect on the environment despite benefits Essay

Chapter One

It was not until recently that it came to the realization of geologists and scientists that Pluto may not be a member of the solar system.  Before the first successful attempt to circumnavigate the world, any mention of the possibility of the world being anything but flat was tantamount to treason that was punishable by death.  While these two may be considered high profile cases there are some low profile cases that are rarely talked about and are assumed to be the truth without necessarily having a critical view of their implication and actual nature (Maher 91).  Recycling is one of the issues that have naturally been assumed to be important to the development of man and especially the environment.  This dimension has been made dominant by the bias associated with its use whereas a critical view of recycling points to the fact that it could be negative to the development that it is said to be sustaining (Moore and Notz 15).  The fact that recycling is considered good for the environment should not be taken to be the entire truth and due to the clear bias that has been developed of this perception it is important that an objective analysis of the possible negative effects that it could have be developed.  It is important to develop an appreciation of the fact that every action has an opposite reaction and the fact that the negative effect of recycling has been hidden from view does not cancel its existence.

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Chemical recycling is considered enviro-negative rather than a benefit; this is based on the fact that the benefit to the environment depends on replacement of new material relative to environmental saving which is not the case in recycling (Judd and Beach 53).  The unchallenged acceptance of recycling fails to appreciate the general trends in consumption.  Generally, man is ready to accept that those who waste should not seek more as seen in financial sanctions on developing nations that are said to have adopted corrupt financial practices and this readiness is not shown in accepting the fact that if the same were not granted aid and measures developed to address poverty then fraud would not be a problem (Judd and Beach 114).  Basically, man suffering from a consumption and growth syndrome and this is the main factor behind acceptance of recycling.

In the 1970s, it was generally accepted that refillable glass was good for the environment (Kaye 101).  This belief was widespread despite the clear danger that the so called ‘refillables’ had if they were to get out of their ‘refilling cycle’.  Basically, it was evident and it still is clear that a refillable bottle lying on the beach is not as environmentally friendly as one in a manufacturing line.  The only change that has since happened in change in terms that saw the replacement of refillable by recyclables; the effects are still the same.

Recycling as a process consumes resources for instance, reusable bottles have to be sterilized before they can be reused.  Conservation that is the basis for recycling is based on using resources in a manner that ensures maximum benefits at low additional costs (Maher 91).  Under this consideration, the overheads incurred in sorting, treating and transporting recycles cut so much into savings made as a results of recycling that in the end there is little or no benefit recorded.

Chapter Two

Human psychology and its general belief that natural is good is central to the unilateral agreement that recyclables are nothing but beneficial.  It is worth noting that man is generally of the view that natural is good despite the clear danger presented by some natural substances like tobacco smoke and volcanic ash (Maher 91).  The current over emphasis on natural products in skin and health products is a marketing gimmick that seeks to harness this perception that is predominant in the modern society.  Recycling follows in the same natural perception in that recycling does not involve burying or burning that are considered unnatural though like the ‘natural products’ it employs chemicals.  A resistance to change that is free occurring is central to the appeal that has been developed of recycling which treats the environment like a living being that has feelings.  It is worth noting that the environment though filled with living beings is not prone to emotions but only reacts according to the actions thus the need for garbage management is a result of an action that few are willing to talk about.

Politics or decision making is central to the wide adoption of recycling as an escapist approach.  This is not surprising considering that the simplest approach though not always the best appeals to the majority (Post and Furedy 36).  Biodegradability of garbage determines a great deal on the approach that will be used in its collection and disposal.   Decision on the approach that will be used in disposal of garbage is an issue that is as a controversial as Darwinism (Gupta 12).  Disposal of garbage in most nations is a political issue that places politicians in a position where they have to put their interest first (Green 79).  Developing a bad name by designating an individual’s backyard a dump site leads to loss of reputation which is more than likely to be associated with loss of a job and is thus not an option that any ‘sane’ politician thinks of.  Recycling is therefore a subjective decision promoted by politician to litigate the risk of disposing off their livelihoods.

Recycling is not production rather is an approach to management of garbage or waste.  Garbage is a result of consumption and therefore as long as there are high levels of consumption garbage is inevitable.  It is important to note that the key cause for the need to decompose, reuse, recycle or even bury garbage lies in the high levels of consumption.  Basically this presents a problem that cannot be easily addressed considering that the willingness of humans to cut on consumption is basically non-existent.  Unless the levels of consumption are reduced, the problems of garbage management will still be at large; recycling provides an avenue that can quell the challenge for the short term (Easton and Goldfarb 91).  Moreover, there are wastes for instance nuclear wastes that cannot be recycled and it is only under such drastic conditions that the true nature of waste management is brought out.  Financial and material dimension that has been taken in perception of happiness is largely to blame for the dimension that consumerism has taken in the present generation.  Simply put, it is near impossible for one to be happy without consuming; mass markets and globalization thrive as a result of consumerism that has led to a whole new perception on what should be done to manage waste (Green 13).

Chapter Three

Consumerism is at the heart of unilateral adoption of recycling without considering the effect that it has on levels of competition (Burgman 79).  Man has adopted an approach where more is consumed as long as one has the resources to manage the consequences.  There is no doubt about the clear correlation that exists between the emphasis placed on recycling and the levels of consumption that characterize the nations in question.  Western nations are notorious for their support of recycling mainly due to the effect that consumerism has had on their populations; the trend is spreading to developed nations due to the effects of globalization (Zimring 101).  Man has taken on an approach where he is willing to consume and not ready to stand the consequences.  This approach has been made possible by development in technology that has made it possible for ‘ efficient’ recycling approaches that minimize the need of having to worry about the consequences of consumption on resources.

Recycling is necessitated by the development of mass markets that make it impossible to dispose of all items that are no longer of need to individuals.  Furthermore, there are different levels of user needs that are largely defined by financial ability; this presents a platform for the justification of recycling as an approach to meting unmet needs of other market segments (Saberwal and Rangarajan 109).  Basically consumerism has led to the perception of recycling as an approach to production or ensuring that the needs of some segments are addressed and not an approach to management of waste.  Under such definition, the need for recycling is fueled by commercialization while factors that are central to recycling are not addressed.  Recycling is the platform that is used by nations to deplete their resources under the pretext that they are being recycled without placing consideration on the value that is lost through use (Zimmerer 95).  This is basic business logic that is hidden from many by the generally accepted perception of recycling being critical to sustainable development while in reality it is a platform used by consumerism to deplete natural resources in the present capitalistic environment.

Behavior of markets and consumers in general has been central to a number of studies and is central to market research.  Markets are largely complex and affected by a large number of factors that make it impossible to clearly define what is expected due to the differences that exist from one customer to the other (Benjamin 76).  However, the behavior of customers which affects their expectation is developed in a manner that is not different from social behavior.  The behavior of any market segment is large affected by the perception that has been developed by the market of its needs and expectations.  This is the key factor that affects the behavior of the market and therefore the nature of products that will be offered.  On the other hand, the expectations and needs are largely determined by perception which is a result of the interaction between an individual and the environment (Schlesinger 43).  Due to the fact that consumers are within an enclosed environment, information systems play a part in determining the nature of needs and expectations of customers (Wilcox 115).  Unfortunately market dynamics, fashion, technology and liberalization play parts as agents of consumerism thus most in the society cannot even fathom the though of having the ability to spend or acquire and not doing so on the basis of environmental conservation (Tisdell 51).  Recycling as an approach is therefore promoted irrespective of its cost and is generally accepted due to the system’s unwillingness to cut on production which is largely a result of an institutionalized perception within the political and financial systems.

Chapter Four

Education and information systems are used in spreading information and for a long time they have been used to spread the generally accepted view of recycling being central to sustainable development.  Development in technology and the continuous risk of energy crisis are more than likely to lead to an increase in pressure on use of other approaches to disposal with increased adoption of nuclear energy (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 35).  Societies across generations have shown a general trend towards enlightenment and this could play an important part in developing awareness on the hidden issues surrounding recycling.  Though such a development may take some time it will do little to change the unilateral view of recycling being environmentally sustainable while it promotes excessive exploitation of resources, change will come as a result of pressure that always seem to develop with enlightenment and sharing that will lead to the realization of flaws inherent of recycling.  There is the possibility that an increase in waste that are non biodegradable, non-recyclable and dangerous which will likely be a result of consumerism will lead to awareness on folly that exists in recycling (Ali 67).  This may take a considerable time considering that the current society is so much inclined on consumerism despite the effects that it has in generating uncertainty in economies and crises.  However, an assumption that there would be no change is largely misplaced considering that even some of the fact that were considered flawless are currently considered myths that have no place in the practical world.  In the short term, there is likely to be an increase in the need for better recycling technologies but as the society become aware of the challenges that it is faced with and the follies in recycling as an approach to ensuring sustainable resource use there is likely to be an uprising that would lead to the highlight of the real issues that have to be addressed in ensuring sustainable resource use.

Work Cited

            Ali, Saleem. Peace parks: conservation and conflict resolution. Boston, MA: MIT             Press, 2007.

            Benjamin, Daniel. Eight Great Myths of Recycling. Ottawa: PERC, 2003

            Burgman, Mark. Risks and decisions for conservation and environmental                                       management. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

            Easton, Thomas and Goldfarb, Theodore. Taking sides: clashing views on                                    controversial environmental issues. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin,                      2003.

            Green, Jen. Recycling. Mankato, MN: Stargazer Books, 2005.

            Green, Jen. Waste and Recycling. Mankato, MN: Chrysalis Education, 2004.

            Gupta, Surendra. Disassembly modeling for assembly, maintenance, reuse, and                             recycling. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2005.

            Judd, Richard and Beach, Christopher. Natural States: The Environmental Imagination                 in Maine, Oregon, and the Nation. Washington, DC: Resources for the Future,                      2003.

            Kaye, Cathryn. The complete guide to service learning: proven, practical ways to             engage students in civic responsibility, academic curriculum, ; social action.                     Boston, MA: Free Spirit Publishing, 2003.

            Maher, Neil. Nature’s new deal: the Civilian Conservation Corps and the roots of the                    American environmental movement. New York, NY: Oxford University Press                   US, 2008.

            Moore, David and Notz, William. Statistics: concepts and controversies. Boston, MA:                  W. H. Freeman, 2005.

            Post, Johan and Furedy, Christine. Solid Waste Management and Recycling: Actors,                     Partnerships and Policies in Hyderabad, India and Nairobi, Kenya. New York,                  NY: Springer, 2004.

            Saberwal, Vasant and Rangarajan, Mahesh. Battles Over Nature: Science and the             Politics of Conservation. Delhi: Orient Blackswan, 2003.

            Schlesinger, Mark. Aluminum recycling. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2006.

            Tisdell, Clement. Economics of environmental conservation. Boston, MA: E. Elgar,                     2005.

            U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge draft                                 comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment. New York,                     NY: DIANE Publishing, 2004.

            Wilcox, Charlotte. Recycling. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications, 2007

            Zimmerer, Karl. Globalization & new geographies of conservation. Chicago, IL:                          University of Chicago Press, 2006.

            Zimring, Carl. Cash for your trash: scrap recycling in America. Piscataway, NJ:                            Rutgers University Press, 2005.

 

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