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THE DARK SIDE: Why I recycle only valuable things

David Ziemer

David Ziemer

I can understand why not everyone is as thrilled as I am with the governor’s proposed budget.

Nevertheless, I am perplexed at the opposition to the elimination of the state requirement that municipalities operate recycling programs, and subsidization of those programs.

According to an article I read, the city of Madison would lose $1.1 million per year in recycling aid. But it spends almost $6 million. And yet, the city is complaining.

If somebody offered me almost $5 million a year, I’d be thrilled.

The reality, of course, is that, even without mandatory recycling, people will recycle anything worth recycling.

I don’t buy a new shirt every day and throw away the one I wore the day before. I wash and recycle it by wearing it again. I do this with all my clothes, right up until the day that some attractive woman tells me, “Ziemer, it’s SO past time to throw that away.”

I don’t buy a new car every day and throw away the old one. I recycle the same 1995 Buick Roadmaster every day. I will continue to do this until the car won’t run anymore.

And even without mandatory recycling, aluminum will still be recycled, because it is economically efficient to recycle aluminum.

But there is no reason to recycle paper. It’s biodegradable, and we have many more acres of forest in this country now than we used to. Trees are just another agricultural product. Reducing our paper use and recycling paper to save trees is as silly as not drinking beer to preserve our precious barley plants.

If there was any rational reason to recycle paper, then rough recycled toilet paper wouldn’t cost three times as much as the soft stuff.

There’s no reason to recycle glass, either. Glass is made of sand, the epitome of an unlimited resource. It is simply much cheaper to make more of it from scratch than to sort broken pieces of green glass from brown glass and recycle all that garbage.

If ever there was a government proposal that could be called a win-win for everybody, eliminating the recycling mandate is it.

According to another article, the City of Greenfield currently forces its citizens to pay $155 per year per single-family home on account of this ridiculous mandate. While the mayor is worried about losing his subsidy from the state, I doubt the people who pay the tax will mourn its demise.

The mayor says the city may stop picking up leaves in autumn if it loses the subsidy. Good. There’s a word for dead leaves – compost – and they should remain where they fall in people’s yards. Removing perfectly good fertilizer from the circle of life is not a legitimate function of government. On the contrary, it’s environmentally irresponsible.

Needless to say, I don’t like government, and there are no budget cuts that the governor could propose that would be too large for my taste.

But even those who like government should support this cut. Eliminating this subsidy and mandate will , according to a recent news article, save $32 million dollars per year for other government programs that could at least do some good for somebody, somewhere.

We can avoid cuts to the court system, for example. Whatever government spending any individual citizen wants to protect, it will be easier to do if we aren’t burning money on expensive and wasteful recycling.

In the end, you can only recycle paper garbage by throwing away valuable paper dollars.

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