Thanks for raising the people's interest about recycling in Columbia County (News-Times editorial, "Take responsibility by recycling garbage," Jan. 2).
Although studies have shown that recycling rarely pays for itself, there are salutary secondary impacts that should be considered, such as saving valuable landfill space, conserving natural materials, energy conservation (it takes 90 percent more energy to produce an aluminum can from ore than recycling one), roadside beautification ("garbalogists" have determined that the largest percentage of roadside waste comes from the bed of Bubba's truck) and very importantly -- teaching children about the environment.
I know radical environmentalists in other areas have taken on recycling programs that would put the staunchest dictatorship to shame. I am not advocating a program such as that. I know I have driven my own family to near-revolution because of my great interest in this subject. My wife has said there are times when she has stood in the middle of the kitchen -- actionless, motionless -- not knowing what to do with the discarded item in her hand. She asked herself, does Chris want it to go into the compost pile? Is it recyclable? If so, is it green glass, or clear? Is it degradable? Should it be crushed in our can crusher?
As to the money for a recycling program and the need for such a program to pay for itself: Pay-as-you-go has not necessarily been the primary criterion for all public programs, as we have recently seen in the interest for an arena in Columbia County. A large part of the argument for an arena has centered on the public benefit, not the operating cost, of the facility.
Each community is different -- consequently, the type and depth of a program should fit the wants and needs of each particular community. Columbia County is changing -- who would have thought 10 years ago that 80 percent of the citizenry would vote to improve their health via a smoking ban? We should at least examine the issue and present the findings to the community to determine if it desires a recycling program; and, if so, how far it wishes to go.
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