The article points out that making recycling easier and easier has led to more contamination in the system. When people don't have to sort the materials, they're not as careful with what and how they recycle. In addition, well-meaning people throw in things that aren't recyclable with the idea that it's worth giving it a shot since maybe it is - and someone will make that decision down the road.
Even with the type of recycling where it must be sorted, people don't read the signs or are just lazy. In our community, we don't have curbside recycling so the materials must be collected at home and taken to recycling centers that have shipping crate sized receptacles to sort the materials into. The problem is, people don't think. They'll toss newspapers into the paper-recycling bin - in a plastic bag. Or, if the clear glass bin is full, rather than taking it home or to another facility (which isn't that far away), they toss them into the next bin which is really for brown glass. I guess they think the recycling fairies will sort it all out, never mind that it's pretty obvious that there are separate bins because there are no fairies. Nor do they consider the extra cost involved with having to do the sorting.
Recycling is not the answer - and most Americans don't want to hear that. They want to believe that they can continue to live as they do - shop when they want, buy the latest-greatest-coolest new products - yet still be "green." Tossing items into the recycling bin makes us feel good. We've done something to "save" the environment. And by using the recycling bin, we've removed ourselves from the responsibility of the things we toss in. "We've done our part," is what we think.
Recycling isn't the perfect solution many of us believe it to be. The answer to the problem of diminishing resources and the increasing need for landfills is to reduce our consumption of everything in the first place. After we have reduced our consumption, we need to reuse the items we would normally recycle, such as glass jars. Instead of buying salad dressing, make your own and refrigerate them in repurposed glass jars; instead of buying a new glass container at Target or another big box store, use a glass jar that would otherwise be tossed in the recycling bin.
Despite the problems with the system, we still need to recycle - once we have reduced our consumption. Want to know the best way to recycle? Follow these tips.