Posted by on November 10, 2008


I have always thought that recycling is  absolute nonsense.
In the UK you will find many pre WW2 inner city houses with a small front garden. On closer inspection you can see that they are wrought iron shafts comming out of the wall that have been cut off at the level of the wall. The shafts used to form a fence – a bit like the picture below, only the wall were generally a bit higher


What has this got to do with recycling?

The reason the fences were cut down was so they could be “re-cycled” to make planes and tanks in the second world war. Wrought Iron is entirely unsuitable for making tanks or airplanes. There is a location in scotland filled with these posts – all that happened is that they were stockpiled.
But it made everyone who chopped down their fences feel like they were helping though!
I don’t know how much stuff is really being recyled anyway its really the point even  if you take the view that the stuff that goes in the recycled bin is being recycled 100% when you recycle you only recycle the finnished product this only is a small fraction of the resource used to make a typical item. The site below explains what I mean

The story of Stuff


  1. Anne
    December 8, 2008

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    Slightly cynical there Paul…
    Part of the point of recycling is to make people mindful about not being wasteful.
    And with the iron railings in WW2, if that actually did make people feel like they were ‘doing their bit’, however small, surely that’s not a bad thing?

    its good to talk


  2. Paul
    December 8, 2008

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    Hi Anne

    Sorry I didn’t realize the main point of recycling is to make people feel like they are doing their bit. I thought it was to save waste and help save the planet.

    However if you want to save the world recycling is a very bad thing because stops people from talking about the real way they can make difference.


    The road to hell is paved with good intentions and recycling is a waste of time.

  3. Anne
    December 10, 2008

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    I think you’re further on in your thinking than many people are, so the ‘reduce, re-use, recycle’ bit is still a challenge to some. Also the 3 I’ve just quoted should be hand in hand – I agree that recycle on its own is not efficient or effective, and may lull people into a false idea of what to do. But you do need to have a bigger picture. I didn’t say the MAIN point was to make people feel better – I said that in something as desperate as a world war surely some feeling of doing their bit wasn’t a bad thing.

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