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We're just recycling platitudes

There are problems that occasionally despoil the quiet tranquillity of the Salt household. And more often than not the cause of these problems is me.

I am accused by wife and daughter of a heinous crime. That I did knowingly and with malice aforethought place recyclables in the general refuse wheelie bin. The incident drew a predictable response: "Where would the planet be if everyone took the easy way out, Bernard?" and "Yeah, Dad, where would we be?"

I know this was a foolish thing to do but I immediately mounted a hasty and ill-prepared defence. I was tired. I had been interstate. I mistook the black bin for the blue bin. I didn't know there was a newspaper bin and a landfill bin. I have a rare medical condition that disallows me to tell the difference between newspapers, PET containers and kitchen refuse.

My pathetic excuses were adjudged to be just that. Pathetic. Then it happened. I broke through some sort of psychological barrier. I could see a white light way off in the distance. A kindly voice beckoned: "Bernard. Don't hide your thoughts. Say what you think." And I did. And it felt good.

"I do not believe that my recycling will help the environment."

As these words left my lips I had an out-of-body experience. I was on the ceiling looking down. There was an eerie silence as if the Earth had stopped spinning on its axis. I might as well have confessed to being a Nazi pedophile. The response was one of incredulity. "But . . . but . . . everyone loves the environment."

The environment is a cause that is beyond reproach. The environment is a self-evident truth. The environment is omnipotent. No one challenges the authority of the environment or indeed anything that may be done in the name of the environment.

Don't get me wrong, I love the environment. I like trees and animals and rivers and stuff. I think the environment is really, really cool. Not cool in a wicked denier's anti-global-warming sort of way but cool in a, you know, cool sort of way.

Do you think this is enough ingratiation to prevent me from being the subject of an environmentalist's jihad? After all, I have questioned the authority of the environment; the fact this questioning was in my home is irrelevant. The environment knows when you are thinking bad thoughts.

When Australians blaspheme against Christian authority everyone supports their right to nuggety self-expressionism, even if it may offend some people.

But try presenting a view at a polite dinner party that you cannot see the point of much of modern life's self-righteous recycling. See how far these anarchical views get before you ignite confrontation with disciples of St Environment.

My point is this. There are three rubbish collections in my suburb in Melbourne: one for general refuse, one for recyclables and one for garden waste. Has anyone completed a cost-benefit analysis of running three collections as opposed to one and shoving the lot in landfill?

Is the carbon footprint of multiple trucks travelling every street every week completely offset by the value of the recyclables collected? Or would the net effect on the environment be less by having one truck travel every street every week?

I don't know the answer. But then again neither does my local council, because the question has never been asked. And the reason this question has never been asked is because anything done in the name of the father, son and holy, oops, sorry, in the name of the environment is never questioned.

I am all for the environment and I do recycle and try to lessen my impact on the planet, but this doesn't mean that inconvenient questions should not be asked. I should add none of these arguments worked with my wife and daughter. I ended up having to separate the rubbish so as to preserve the quiet tranquillity of the Salt household.


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