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OUR VIEW: Recycling is about a different kind of green

On February 19, 2013


The USU recycling center isn’t making money. The program relies on subsidies to sift through our recyclables and sell the usable portion on the market, but often the market isn’t fantastic. It’s not surprising, though. Other recycling companies struggle with fickle supply and fluctuating global demand — It’s not easy to know how much cardboard China will need next month, and it’s probably harder to know how to teach people which items go in which bins. Our recycling center has to comply with an entire set of policies on safety, hiring and wages that other companies either don’t have or can more easily ignore.

Regardless of whether the center is self-sustaining, it’s not going anywhere. USU sees itself as an example in sustainability, and a university-run recycling center isn’t cutting-edge — it’s becoming standard. And a recycling center has a purpose beyond profitability. As consumerism soars and land runs out, sending trash to the landfill will grow more expensive financially and environmentally. USU may be paying to recycle, but at least we’re paying less to the landfill.

And while recycling is a good thing, part of the reason we do it is the staggering amount of trash we produce. The U.S. is recycling more than ever, but we’re also consuming more. The greenest choice between a flash drive in recyclable packaging and a similar drive in non-recyclable packaging is to forget the drive and save your files online. Rather than worrying about getting a paper cup into the right recycling bin, use a water bottle and skip the soft drinks. There are many ways to help the environment, but few are as rewarding as introducing less garbage to your life.

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