Stop arguing with people about recycling and the environment.  Instead, appeal to them with an economic platform.

I’ve been told that it doesn’t help our environment.  I’ve been told that it’s a waste of time.  I’ve even been told that it’s a conspiracy.  The most interesting response that I’ve ever received concerning recycling was from a man who told me that it makes no difference.  He told me that we [the United States] could fill one landfill, 100 yards deep and 35 miles long on each side for the next 1,000 years.  He even drew me a map of Colorado and explained that the whole world could fill a tiny corner of that State and it would make no difference.

The preceding responses are a small taste of what I’ve been told after trying to convince others that recycling is better for our environment.  For my fellow concerned citizens and tree-hugging friends, I have found a new approach for us to try when looking to convert someone to the green side of life.  Step back … are you ready?  Instead of using the word environment, we should use the word economy …

… and this is why:

Not everyone is aware that 80% of our garbage is recyclable and 90% of what we put in landfills has a market value.  This might explain why Americans only recycle 28% of their garbage.  Perhaps if we understood more about recycling and its effect on the economy we will change our wasteful ways.

From a business perspective, there are huge savings in recycled products.  For example, it costs a company 96% less energy to reuse aluminum cans, 88% less with polystyrene, 76% with plastic bottles, 45% with newsprint, and glass comes in with 21% savings.  Instead of spending energy and money to mine bauxite for aluminum or using raw materials to make plastic, companies are saving by reusing what is in our garbage.    

These business savings has created a demand for more recycling plants, which in turn creates more jobs.  Right now, in the Unites States, there are more than one million people working in the recycling industry.  This industry is currently worth $236 billion with a downstream economy that adds another $170 billion to the market.  To put the cherry on top, spending by employees of the recycling industry has created 1.5 million jobs, which has spread yet another $100+ billion into the economy.

All of these numbers are great and can be even greater if Americans recycled more.  In effect, we could add 5 million+ jobs and another $1 trillion into our economy simply by throwing 80% of our garbage into our green, orange, and red containers.

This is how I have been convincing people to recycle more.  I stopped using the environment as my platform and started using the economy as my basis for reasoning.  So far, this approach has been very effective.  It also helps me to avoid the senseless debates.

Instead of asking, “What are you doing to help the environment?” we should start asking, “What are you doing to help the economy?”  It’s a strange question for many people.  The average citizen would never think that they could help the economy past paying their bills and shopping at the local grocery.

For those of us spreading the green message, this approach tends to stump the opponents of climate change and environment protection—at least in my experience.  After all, who can argue against a practice that enhances our economy, conserves our resources, and improves our environment?  Share the numbers!  Tell them to stop letting their trash go to waste.

~ John Debar, a conscious observer ~

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Originally posted to Conscious Observer on KOS on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 03:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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